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Investigation cloaked in secrecy.

An investigation into the actions of a Newcastle health visitor who claims she was made a scapegoat for the murder of a baby was cloaked in secrecy, a tribunal heard yesterday.

Christine Thomson was sacked by Newcastle Primary Care Trust after Aaron O'Neil, whose case she had been assigned, was murdered by his father in Kenton, Newcastle, in February 2005.

She was dismissed in February last year for alleged gross misconduct after an internal inquiry conducted by Barry Jackson, service manager for Primary Care Mental Health, a decision which was upheld by an appeal panel.

Mrs Thomson, of Ponteland, Northumberland, was criticised for a visit to the family's flat in Banbury Road, Kenton, three days before Aaron died in February 2005. At the tribunal yesterday, where Mrs Thomson is claiming unfair dismissal against the trust, Mr Jackson admitted under questioning he had pre-judged whether or not the visit should have been deemed an "emergency".

Mr Jackson said before he even recorded his first interview in the investigation he had spoken informally to six health visitors about the issue, discussions which were not recorded in his report.

Simon Goldberg, for Mrs Thomson, said: "I said in my skeleton argument that this investigation was secretive. I'm not sure at that stage I knew just how secretive. Can you not see you have single-handedly made out my conspiracy theory for me?"

Mr Jackson denied the accusation.

Aaron was murdered by his father on February 10. O'Neil was jailed for a minimum of 22 years last February. Aaron's mother Jodie Taylor is now out of prison following a three-and-a-half year sentence for neglect.

The hearing continues.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 27, 2007
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