Christiana Odubamowo v OFSTED  EWCST 393(EYJP) (16 July 2005)
Christiana Odubamowo v OFSTED
Case No's:  0393.EYJP  452.EY
- Before -
Ms Liz Goldthorpe (Chair)
Mr Peter George
Mr Keith White
Hearing at the Care Standards Tribunal
Pocock Street, London
On 17th and 18th March 2005
Hearing and further Directions
i) An extension of the Restricted Reporting Order on both appeals until further order.
ii) Counsel for the Respondent to serve written submissions on Ms CO in relation to Appeal One no later than 4:00 pm on 1st April 2005.
iii) Both parties to file written submissions with the Tribunal in respect of Appeal One no later than 4:00 pm on 8th April 2005.
THE LAW AND GUIDANCE
Supervision and Safety
The basis of determination by the Tribunal
i) the children had been exposed to a risk of significant harm, both physical and emotional
ii) Ms CO and Ms A were 'untruthful' and 'unreliable' witnesses, and
iii) Ms CO had been 'reckless' and 'irresponsible'.
and duly ordered cancellation of Ms CO's registration.
Respondent's submissions in respect of Appeal One:
"While the Tribunal must exercise its own judgment, it should pay due regard to the experience, knowledge, functions and powers of the Chief Inspector and his staff. Where, as in the present case, serious failures have been established on the part of the registered person, such that either a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm, the Tribunal should be cautious before accepting assurances from the registered person that the Chief Inspector has no opportunity to monitor. On appeals against orders made under section 79K, the Tribunal should give substantial weight to the importance of persons wishing to mind children for reward demonstrating to the Chief Inspector their fitness for registration before they undertake or resume child minding, rather than while carrying out child minding. There is much to be said for the contention of the Chief Inspector that persons who could not qualify for registration (because, for example, they are in need of training) should not, in general, act as child minders until they have demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Chief Inspector that they should be registered, for example that they have in fact successfully undertaken the requisite training."
Miss Freeborn submitted that this was of direct relevance to this Applicant's conduct. If the Applicant's registration were reinstated, there would no effective way for the Respondent to monitor whether she was continuing to leave very young children unattended.
• numerous and striking inconsistencies between Ms A's statement and that of the Applicant, including a lack of clarity about the number of children in the flat and the length of time she had been there before the Applicant went out.
• the Applicant had attempted to distance herself from the detailed contents of her signed statement when she realised what a hostage to fortune it was, and had not filed a further one correcting its contents despite alleging it had been prepared in haste and the President's Directions on 4 January 2005 – she had failed to include in her statement her assertion that she had told Ms Ramsey and Ms Kendrick of Ms A's presence and was unable to explain this when cross examined about it, despite the detail with which she dealt with Ms Ramsey's visit.
• and impressive and thorough command of the papers and detail, which showed she was more than capable of submitting a full account had she chosen so to do.
• wholly unconvincing explanations for Ms A's absence, indicating that every adverse inference should be drawn from her decision not to attend, despite being told when and where to go by the Applicant.
• her general unreliability as shown by her explanation for her late arrival on 17 March, leading to her admission that the letter did not exist, and invited a conclusion in similar terms to District Judge Gillibrand that the Applicant was "an untruthful and unreliable witness"
i) had left four children unattended in her flat for not less than fifteen minutes on 23 September 2004;
(ii) was over minding on 23 September 2004 by having four children under the age of 5 in her care;
(iii) had admitted to the police who attended on that day that she had left the children alone;
(iv) admitted to Angela Ramsey on 28 September 2004 that she had left the children alone, although on that occasion she repeatedly said that it was for five minutes only;
(v) admitted to Suzanne Kendrick on the telephone on 29 September 2004 that she had left the children alone;
(vi) had failed to disclose to the Respondent the incident of 23 September 2004 including the police visit, despite making contact with the Respondent by telephone on 24 September 2005
a) had left three children aged under 2 and one of 2 years of age alone for at least fifteen minutes on 23 September 2004;
b) exposed all four children to a risk of significant harm by so doing;
c) had admitted leaving the children alone, to Ms U, Ms L and to the police on 23 September 2004, to Ms Ramsey on 28 September 2004; and to Ms Kendrick on 29 September 2004;
d) had fabricated the story about Ms A being left with the children on 23 September 2004 and had lied to the Tribunal on oath in respect of the events of that day and, furthermore, in fabricating the story about Ms A's presence at the flat, the Applicant had attempted to frustrate a child protection investigation and children could thus never be safely entrusted to her care again.
(i) on three separate occasions she told different people she had been the only person present in the flat and was only later when matters became more serious for her that she began to allege that Ms A had been present.
(ii) She admitted to police on 23rd September that she had left the children alone, but denied doing so to us in oral evidence
(iii) her evidence about the layout of the flat and her description of the bedrooms did not match those of any other witness. This included her denial that she used one of the bedrooms for storing buggies, and her assertions about the kitchen door and about Ms A hiding in the bedroom. It was clearly important for the Applicant to check out what each witness had seen in each room in order to establish her insistence that someone was in the bedroom.
(iv) She gave contradictory information or failed to give relevant information at different times, shown for example, by her insistence that she had told police that Ms A was there. It was also demonstrated by her conduct in relation to this appeal, including her own lateness in arriving on the first day, her inability to produce records she said she kept that matched those that Ms Ramsey said she saw and the confusing information she gave about the arrival of her witness, Ms A. It was most noticeable that she showed a complete confusion about timing of the availability of minicabs and an inability to adequately plan booking of this service: we noticed in particular that immediately after talking about this at the end of the first day of hearing, she said her head was 'spinning'.
(v) She encouraged Ms A to breach the terms of her employment or to risk dismissal on her behalf: we note that she told us on the second day that she had instructed Ms A to register her presence at work and then come straight to the Tribunal. In fact, we gained the impression that Ms A was never coming and may have never intended to come at all.
(vi) She failed to notify Ofsted of the police investigation despite her telephone call regarding her urgent need for an assistant some two days after the incident. In fact she made a total of 3 telephone calls without mentioning the incident at all.
Significant harm or risk of significant harm
a) left very young vulnerable children for a significant period of time on their own in circumstances that placed them at risk of significant harm
b) could not be trusted not to do so again
c) did not deny overminding and her assertion that having the extra child did not constitute an official minding situation because the mother was at an interview was irrelevant: she had exceeded her registration criteria, which exacerbated the risk to the children
The Applicant's appeal is accordingly dismissed and therefore, in these circumstances, there is no need to consider her second appeal under s.79M. For the avoidance of doubt, this second appeal is also dismissed.
Our decision is unanimous.
Ms L Goldthorpe Chair
Mr Peter George
Mr Keith White
16th July 2005