Council chief and head of children's services suspended over 'inexplicable' safeguarding delays

BURY Council's chief executive has been suspended, along with the head of children's services and monitoring officer, after an independent review found they deliberately delayed taking action when a councillor was accused of making indecent images of children.

The inquiry said Mike Owen, Mark Carriline and Jayne Hammond "inexplicably" took five weeks to implement a series of measures that should have been in place within 24 to 48 hours of Simon Carter being bailed and banned from having unsupervised contact with children in April 2015. This included taking eight days to inform the school where Carter was a governor, the Manchester Evening News reports.

All three were suspended under emergency powers on February 16. The council's HR & Appeals Panel has now extended the suspension while a full investigation is carried out.  

Carter pleaded guilty to making 16 counts of making indecent images of children in June 2015.

There is no suggestion any children were harmed as a result of the delays.

In a statement, council leader Rishi Shori said: "The council received allegations that there were failures to act appropriately in following safeguarding procedures in respect of an historic individual case. Given the importance of this issue, we commissioned an external review from childcare expert Malcolm Newsam CBE into how the council dealt with the issue.

"I must stress that the suspension of the three officers is a neutral act and will allow them to focus on responding to the investigation."

Deputy chief executive and director for communities and wellbeing Pat Jones-Greenhalgh will act as interim chief executive until the investigation is completed.