Child home inspector is demoted (11.03.93)

Evening Standard, 11th March 1993

by Eileen Fairweather

MIKE BETTS, the Islington children’s home inspector whose damning reports on the borough’s homes were suppressed by management, has been demoted.

 Two weeks ago the Evening Standard revealed that senior officials denied the existence of his horrifying reports to councillors and the independent inquiry ordered by Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, following our expose in October of the borough’s child care.

 Our three-month investigation uncovered management indifference to suspected pimps and paedophiles sleeping with children at the homes and sexual abuse by staff. The inquiry’s interim report, published last month, upheld the paper’s major allegations.

 In a Press release today the social workers’ union, Nalgo, confirmed a cover-up of Mr Betts’s reports.

 Nalgo says that Mr Betts, who was removed from his post without explanation last month, has been victimised. His reports, it said, ‘were suppressed because they supported serious allegations made in the London Evening Standard’.

 The Standard discovered the concealment of Mr Betts’s reports a few days before the inquiry published its findings last month.

 We informed the inquiry team who interviewed Mr Betts, obtained his reports and in their own report noted their ‘concern’ that they had not been made available to them.

 Martin Higgins says that reports did exist, but were not submitted to councillors because they were ‘incomplete’ as Mr Betts had joined a strike by social workers.

 When it ended in February, Mr Betts, who has 20 years’ experience as a social worker and manager, was told to clear his desk and has been demoted to an assistant neighbourhood officer.

 Mr McDonald, 28, was previously vice chairman of social services in neighbouring Camden. The council said that if Mr Betts was unhappy with his treatment ”there are appeal procedures’.

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