Haringey Council filmed Baby P’s mother talking about her boyfriend four months before the toddler was found dead, Panorama can reveal.
The council has repeatedly denied knowledge that the man had access to the child – now known as Peter – claiming the manipulative mother had hidden his existence from them and made it impossible for social workers to assess the dangers the child faced.
Panorama has learned that Peter’s mother was the subject of an academic study in a pilot child protection practice called Solutions Focus Brief Therapy and that she was interviewed and videotaped in council offices in March 2007. The study was being carried out by the senior team manager in charge of Peter’s case.
During the film, Peter’s mother talks in some detail about the man now known to have been abusing her son, describing him as “a very good friend” for whom she cooked a Valentine Day dinner. This was about two weeks after the mother’s estranged husband warned social workers that she had a new boyfriend.
More details of the video’s contents will be revealed in tonight’s programme.
The video was made by Sue Gilmore, a senior social worker manager respected by colleagues, and was common knowledge in the north Tottenham Office close to Peter’s home.
Mrs Gilmore told Panorama she put a note of the interview on Peter’s electronic file for anyone accessing the system to see.
But Panorama will reveal that police investigating unexplained injuries to Peter in the months before he died were never told about the video or that it contained details of the boyfriend. This meant the man was never questioned and a vital opportunity to protect Peter and save his life was missed.
Details of the video were also never revealed to the murder squad detectives investigating his death in August 2007 and it was never shown to the jury in the Old Bailey trial last autumn.
The film only came to light three months ago.
Haringey says responsibility for deciding what information was given to detectives lay with the former Director of Children services, Sharon Shoesmith, and her former deputy, Cecilia Hitchen.
Mrs Shoesmith says she cannot comment about the video. She was advised by a barrister everything was disclosed and only documents with Public Interest Immunity were withheld.
Cecilia Hitchen has declined to comment.
Mrs Gilmore says she did not complete the Solution Focus Brief Therapy study and that coursework involving several families was destroyed, before Peter died, for confidential reasons.
She told the programme she co-operated fully with police and told them about the interview with Peter’s mother in January 2008. She left Haringey Council last year to work elsewhere.
Police confirmed that officers were not told about the video or given a transcript during the murder inquiry.