RT v OFSTED, Court of Appeal - Suspension of child minders/day care registration, January 23, 2006, [2006] EWCST 640(EY-SUS)

Resolution Date:January 23, 2006
Issuing Organization:Suspension of child minders/day care registration
Actores:RT v OFSTED
 
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RT v OFSTED [2006] EWCST 640 (EY-SUS) (23 January 2006)R T-v-OFSTED[2005] 614.EYSUS[2006] 640 EYSUS-Before-His Honour Judge David Pearl(President)Mr James ChurchillMrs Linda ElliotHeard in Leicester on 10th January 2006 and Care Standards Tribunal, Pocock St on 25th January 2006.DECISIONPreliminary Matters 1. The Appellant is a childminder who has been registered since 1989. The Respondent issued a Notice of Suspension on 2nd December 2005 for a period of six weeks until 13th January 2006. The Appellant appealed, and we heard evidence on 10th January 2006 from Mrs De-Lastey, Mr Alexander, Mrs Andrews and Mrs Kerslake on behalf of the Respondent; and from Mrs RT on her own behalf. 2. At the end of the evidence on this day, Ms K. Olley of Counsel on behalf of the Respondent submitted that the Tribunal should dismiss the appeal, or resume the hearing in order to hear further evidence from Ms Laura Keeley (and possibly her line manager) to rebut evidence given by Mrs RT relating to a telephone call from Mrs RT on 21st November 2005. 3. After consideration of this submission, the Tribunal decided to resume the hearing in order to hear this evidence, and to hear direct evidence if possible from the parents of the children who had been minded by Mrs RT as to what, if anything, they had been told by OFSTED concerning their children being minded by Mrs RT without reward. 4. The appeal was adjourned until 25th January 2006. In the meantime, the suspension was extended by a notice dated 13th January 2006 for a further six week period. Mrs RT exercised her right of appeal in relation to this further period of suspension, and by virtue of Direction 7 of the Directions dated 11th January 2006, this further appeal was heard on 25th January 2006. 5. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Tribunal made a Restricted Reporting Order under Regulation 18, with the approval of both parties. Accordingly, the Appellant and her witnesses are referred to throughout this Decision by initials to protect the private life of the Appellant, her witnesses and their children.The evidence heard on 10th January 2006. 6. Mrs De-Lastie, the Area Manager of the Respondent within the Midlands Region, stated in evidence that she first became aware of the case involving Mrs RT on 10th November 2005 following a complainant’s contact on 2nd November 2005 to OFSTED. This information would seem to have been given by a parent of an ex-minded child to the effect that Mrs RT was being investigated by the Police. Apparently, OFSTED had had no knowledge of this investigation, so enquiries were made by OFSTED to the Police. 7. Mrs De-Lastie stated in her evidence, and in her witness statement, that a telephone call was received by Mrs Hutton in OFSTED from DC Claire Hill of the Leicestershire Police Force. DC Hill confirmed that Mrs RT had been interviewed under caution in October 2005 and that a police investigation was ongoing. 8. Mrs De-Lastie stated, that as result of this ongoing police investigation by the police regarding the care of children, the failure of Mrs RT to notify OFSTED of this significant event, and the fact that there was a history of previous complaints (15 complaints since 2001 summarised in an Annex to Mrs De-Lastie’s witness statement), she decided to call a case conference. 9. It would seem that this conference was held over the telephone on 15th November 2005 at 9.00am with Mrs De-Lastie, Mrs Kerslake, Mrs Plewinska, Mrs Helbo and Mr Alexander (who chaired the Conference) all participating. The minute states: “Following OFSTED being made aware that Leicestershire police are conducting an investigation into this childminder. Childminder has been interviewed under caution by Police and failed to notify OFSTED. Police putting a case together to take to CPS. SSD has not decided about their involvement following a referral made to them regarding Child minder treating a child roughly.” 10. The Minute of this conference states that the decision was taken to invite Mrs RT to accept a voluntary suspension, and that if she refused to agree to a voluntary suspension, then OFSTED would suspend Mrs RT on a statutory basis. 11. Mrs De-Lastie made two telephone calls to Mrs RT on that day, the first call being at 9.37am immediately after the case conference had been concluded. She informed Mrs RT that she wished to come and discuss with her the request that she suspend her childminding on a voluntary basis. The witness statement of Mrs De-Lastie sets out what Mrs De-Lastie told Mrs RT: “She asked whether this was in relation to the previous complaints made by Mrs P’s children and I confirmed yes. Mrs RT voiced her concern that OFSTED had already dealt with this. I explained that since then, we had become aware of the ongoing police investigation regarding her care of children.” 12. Mrs De-Lastie said in evidence that she explained to Mrs RT what a voluntary suspension involved. She said that she told Mrs RT that a voluntary suspension meant that “she would not care for children.” Mrs De-Lastie said that Mrs RT decided not to agree to a voluntary suspension, and accordingly, Mrs De-Lastie phoned Mrs Helbo and told her to prepare a formal notice of suspension. 13. Mrs De-Lastie then telephoned Mrs RT and told her that Mrs Kerslake, a team manager, would be visiting her to issue her with a formal statutory suspension. 14. It would seem that sometime during that morning and after receiving advice from lawyers of the NCMA, Mrs RT changed her mind and agreed to a voluntary suspension. 15. Mrs Kerslake visited Mrs RT together with Mrs Susan Andrews, a Childcare inspector, at 11.25am on the 15th November 2005. They had with them copies of the formal suspension notice that had been prepared that day...

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