The director of children’s services at Bury council is facing the sack for serious misconduct.
Mark Carriline, who earns £110,000 a year, appeared before a disciplinary hearing this week after he and council chief executive, Mike Owen, were found to have ‘deliberately’ delayed carrying out child protection procedures when a councillor was accused of indecent child image offences.
As revealed by the M.E.N, Mr Owen quit on Sunday – the day before he was due to face his disciplinary hearing.
A panel has concluded Mr Carriline was guilty of serious misconduct and has recommended he be dismissed without notice. It is now up to the council to ratify the recommendation.
Mr Owen and Mr Carriline were suspended in February with monitoring officer Jayne Hammond.
Ms Hammond was suspended due to concerns over legal advice she had given regarding the matter. She has been given a written warning.
But the panel concluded Mrs Hammond did not have direct responsibility for child safeguarding, and an independent report did not find that her legal advice had been wrong, and there was no evidence of ulterior motive at work but there ‘were lessons to be learned’.
Mr Owen, who was paid £157,000 a year will not receive any severance package, just holiday money due.
A review this year found Mr Owen and Mr Carriline had ‘inexplicably’ and ‘deliberately’ delayed implementing safeguard procedures when allegations about former Labour councillor Simon Carter first came to light.
The then councillor for Tottington, who was on the adoption register at the time, had been accused of making indecent child images in spring 2015 and was convicted the following September.
An investigation found Mr Owen and Mr Carriline had waited up to five weeks to carry out a string of child protection measures that should have been implemented within 24 or 48 hours of the allegations surfacing.
That included taking eight days to inform the school where he was a governor.
Carter was immediately removed from the council’s list of people approved to adopt children, but a report found child protection measures weren’t put in place in the proper time frame.
In June 2015, Carter admitted 16 counts of making indecent images of children at Bolton Crown Court.
The charges related to the downloading of images. There is no suggestion any children were harmed as a result of the safeguarding delays.
In a statement Bury council said: “A disciplinary panel of Bury Council met on 19 and 20 June to consider an independent external investigation report undertaken by Charles Bourne QC. The report examined disciplinary allegations which had been made against three senior officers of the council following a review into a historic child safeguarding issue.
“The panel noted the resignation with immediate effect of the chief executive and head of paid service, Mike Owen, which had been received on Friday, 16 June 2017 and was effective at midnight on 18 June 2017.
“The panel noted that the council had no choice in whether to accept the resignation as it was a unilateral action on the part of Mr Owen. The panel noted with concern the findings of the Independent Investigation reports regarding Mr Owen’s role in the historic child safeguarding issue under review, but noted that as Mr Owen was no longer an employee of the council it had no jurisdiction to reach any conclusions on the matter.
“In respect of a second senior officer, the panel considered the Independent Investigation Report and heard representations from witnesses and the officer and his representative. The panel considered the recommendations of the report and concluded that the officer was guilty of serious misconduct, further, the officer had failed to maintain trust and confidence of the council and accordingly the panel recommends to the full council that the officer is dismissed from the service without notice.
“Having carefully considered the Independent Report, the evidence and the representations of a third senior officer, Jayne Hammond, the allegations against that officer were resolved by the panel.
“Whilst there were lessons to be learned, Mrs Hammond did not have direct responsibility for child safeguarding, the Independent report did not find that Mrs Hammond’s legal advice had been wrong, and there was no evidence of ulterior motive at work.”