More than 60 headteachers today voiced their support for one of the officials at the centre of the row over Baby P’s tragic death.
In a joint letter, they insisted Haringey’s director of children’s services Sharon Shoesmith was an “outstanding public servant” who should not be forced to quit.
The intervention came as ministers and inspectors faced further questions over whether they could have prevented the 17-month-old losing his life.
Research also indicated that more than 80% of youngsters killed or seriously injured as a result of abuse or neglect are missed by the national child protection register.
British Children’s secretary Ed Balls tried to regain the initiative tonight, adopting a tougher tone by stressing his “anger” that “crucial interventions” had not been made in the Baby P case.
“People are asking how these despicable acts of evil can happen in this day and age and in Haringey of all places,” he said.
“As a parent, I found reading the confidential serious case review and the details of the abuse deeply disturbing. It is even more heartbreaking now that we have all seen the photographs of Baby P.
“Like everybody I am angry that crucial interventions to save this little boy were not made.
“Professionals working with children in this country do a tough job in very difficult communities but I will not hesitate to act on the findings of the investigation into what went wrong in Haringey and on Lord Laming’s review of child protection.”
The blond, blue-eyed toddler died in a blood-spattered cot on August 3 last year, having suffered more than 50 injuries despite 60 visits from the authorities over eight months.
His natural father, who did not live with the child, yesterday paid tribute to his “bouncing” boy, saying he “loved him deeply”.
As the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, condemned the three people convicted of involvement in his son’s death, it emerged that a whistleblower - former social worker Nevres Kemal – wrote to the Government six months before the infant was killed in Haringey, north London, warning of concerns about the area’s child protection services.
But ministers did not investigate further, saying it was a matter for the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).
Inspectors held a meeting with Haringey Council staff but ruled they were “satisfied” with how the specific fears raised by Ms Kemal had been handled.
In a statement read by his lawyer the boy’s father said: “Those who systematically tortured P and killed him kept it a secret, not just from me but from all the people who visited the house up until P’s death.
“Even after he died, they lied to cover up their abuse.
“The verdicts will help to bring closure for what has been a very traumatic time for me, P’s family and indeed all those who knew and were close to him.”
The open letter in support of Ms Shoesmith was signed by headteachers from 61 state-funded primary schools and seven secondary schools in the area.
They insisted: “Should the Child P case result in her loss from the borough, then our children and young people will lose one of their most effective, determined and committed champions.”
“Initially, in her role of director of education, Ms Shoesmith transformed a demoralised education service, derided by many headteachers, into one with which we are now proud to be associated.
“Since more recently becoming the director of Haringey’s Children and Young People’s Service, Ms Shoesmith has continued to work relentlessly and with a determination that the service she leads and develops ensures best practice in providing education, care, support and protection for all of our young people.”
Haringey Council is the same local authority heavily criticised for failing to prevent the murder of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2000.
Ms Kemal claimed on February 16 last year that Haringey had failed to act on allegations of child sexual abuse – which were unconnected to the Baby P case.
A review by Ofsted and the CSCI highlighted a number of “issues for improvement” and the council was ordered to resolve them “as soon as possible”.
Ms Kemal’s lawyer, Lawrence Davies, said her complaint was “pushed from pillar to post” and suggested Baby P’s death might have been averted if it had been acted on.
The Conservatives have accused the Government of “bureaucratic buck-passing” and called for a detailed account of how Ms Kemal’s letter was dealt with.
But Gordon Brown pledged to do “everything in my power” to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
Speaking during a trip to New York, the Prime Minister said: “I am determined that everything we do, the inquiries we are having in this case, reveal everything that went on.”
Preliminary research findings reported by the Guardian today showed that between 2005 and 2007, 189 reviews were carried out into the death or serious injury of 189 children who suffered abuse. However, only 156 had previously featured on the protection register.