County councils cut ties with solicitors in wake of Twitter scandal

Leise Cooper, chairman of Herts Parent Carer Involvement and a board member of Angels Support Group.

Leise Cooper, chairman of Herts Parent Carer Involvement and a board member of Angels Support Group. - Credit: Archant

Parents have hit out at a law firm which specialises in contesting claims for children with special educational needs and disabilities – and has been representing Herts and South Cambs county councils – after a series of comments made on social media.

On Saturday night, a series of bizarre tweets from Baker Small’s Twitter account @bakersmall appeared to gloat at parents who had failed to win funding for their children’s SEN provision.

One read: “Crikey, had a great ‘win’ last week which sent some parents into a storm! It is always a great win when the other side thinks they won.”

Another tweet refers to ABA, applied behaviour analysis, which helps children with autism. It read: “Great ABA trib win this week. Interesting to see how parents continue to persist with it. Funny thing is parents think they won.” Referring to the same case, another tweet read: “Whenever someone thinks they have won and they have conceded 90% of their case, it does make me smile.”

A mum who is due to face Baker Small at a tribunal shortly, to fight for help for her son who has SEN and disabilities, said: “I was saddened and disgusted to see Baker Small’s tweets, but I was not surprised.”

Ties to Baker Small will be cut ‘at the earliest opportunity’, a Herts County Council spokesman confirmed.

Cambridgeshire County Council also announced it will not be referring new cases to the legal firm.

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Leise Cooper, chairman of Herts Parent Carer Involvement, said: “We strongly believe that by continuing to use Baker Small, who are demonstrably invested in keeping the system adversarial and confrontational, is not in the best interests of Hertfordshire’s children with special educational needs.”

The company deleted the tweets in the wake of the public’s reaction, and has since apologised and made a charity donation. A spokesman said: “We are very sorry and apologise for the offence caused by our tweets. We recognise the strength of feeling following the deletion of some of our tweets and for the content.

“It is with sincere regret we have let ourselves down by publishing tweets which are not representative of the work or approach we adopt.”