A story concerning tweets sent by a law firm about disabled children has highlighted the risks of lax social media policies or control. It has also illustrated why these sort of disputes are best mediated.
Local authority law firm Baker Small posted a series of tweets about having defeated parents of disabled children who had appealed to a tribunal to get their local council to provide their children with funded specialist care.
The firm’s tweets included posting a picture of a laughing kitten.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Lorna Dupré has said that the firm was paid at least £144,000 between May 2015 and January 2016. But it has announced that it will not be referring any new cases to Baker Small. So that was an expensive tweet!
In a statement, Cambridgeshire County Council said that it had “decided to set up alternative arrangements for new cases”. Adrian Loades, Executive Director for Children, Families and Adults, said, “We can confirm that we will no longer be using Baker Small for new cases. We recognise the damage that these tweets have done to parental confidence and by extension to the potential relationship between the County Council and parents”.
Quite rightly, Mr Loades emphasised that while “there can be different views between parents and the Local Authority “we always work hard to avoid this relationship becoming adversarial if at all possible.”
Issues such as disputes between parents and local authorities can be dealt with through mediation, so avoiding the adversarial process altogether and a breakdown in the relationship between the Local Authority and parents.