FORMER Haringey Council social workers who admitted failings in their care of Baby Peter have been suspended.

Maria Ward, assigned Peter Connelly's case in February 2007, was suspended for two months, and her team manager, Gillie Christou, was suspended for four months by the General Social Care Council (GSCC).

The pair have already spent 16 months on suspension during the investigation.

Baby Peter was 17 months old when he died with more than 50 injuries in August 2007 despite being on Haringey Council's at-risk register.

The council sacked Ms Ward and Ms Christou in April 2009 citing gross misconduct. They have both since lodged appeals against their dismissals.

Ms Ward and Ms Christou accepted they did not follow the child protection plan designed to keep Baby Peter safe by failing to ensure he was visited enough, losing contact with him, and had a four-month backlog of notes relating to his case.

Marios Lambis, counsel for the GSCC, said Peter's death was "an eminently avoidable tragedy".

GSCC committee chairman Jonathan Roberts said the panel felt that a suspension was a more appropriate sanction than being struck off.

He said: "Such a course was disproportionate to the facts admitted at this hearing", adding it would have been done "to satisfy a perceived public demand for blame and punishment for a registrant who does not present a continuing risk".

Factors taken into consideration included the women's admissions of the allegations against them, their otherwise unblemished records, staff shortages and excessive caseloads in the department at the time.

He also added that Baby Peter's mother, Tracey Connelly, was a "skilled and manipulative liar".

The 28-year-old admitted causing or allowing her son's death. Her boyfriend, Stephen Barker, and his brother, Jason Owen, were found guilty of the same charge.

Nick Toms, who represented the social workers, said both women "deeply regret" what happened to Peter and had been "devastated" by the case.

He added: "Their reputations will probably never recover from the battering they have received in the media."