Mainstream media catches up with concerns over Haringey Chief Exec Ita O’Donovan

Evening Standard, 12 March 2009:

The head of the council at the centre of the Baby P scandal faces questions today over a series of other child protection failures.

Haringey chief executive Ita O’Donovan has held senior positions at three councils that were condemned for failing children so seriously that the Government was forced to intervene.

Dr O’Donovan has worked in authorities embroiled in some of the country’s most shocking child deaths. She has said she considered resigning over the Baby P tragedy but decided the council needed stability.

She was in charge of Stoke-on-Trent council when 15-year-old Gareth Myatt choked and died while being restrained by guards at a privately-run secure training centre in 2004.

Shortly after Dr O’Donovan left, ministers decided a taskforce should be sent in to take over Stoke’s children’s services.

Dr O’Donovan also held a senior post at Newham council when two-year-old Ainlee Labonte was killed by her parents after suffering months of abuse in 2002, although she was not responsible for social services at the time.

Liberal Democrat Voice, 3 December 2008:

Haringey Council Chief Executive Ita O’Donovan turns out to have held a senior post at three different councils where the children’s services were so poor that the Government had to intervene directly.

It’s good to see the media picking up on this point, as Ita O’Donovan’s record certainly merits scrutiny.

I’ve only really had direct experience of her qualities once, though she was less than impressive on that occasion. It was at an election count where she was insisting on the count being carried out in a way that was in fact in breach of the law, and our team there rang me for advice. Eventually she agreed to carry out the count in the way the law stipulates, though not before she made a series of erroneous claims about what the law said and how counts had previously been conducted in Haringey.

Compared to something like running Children’s Services properly, this is a relatively minor issue, but for me it certainly raised questions about her judgement and expertise.

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