The £121,000-a-year children’s services boss who presided over the tragic case of Star Hobson has refused to take responsibility for the catastrophic failings in the lead-up to her death.

Mark Douglas was Bradford’s Director Children’s Services. He resigned just days prior to the Savannah Brockhill trial, which began on August 28, with Frankie Smith (age 20).

He is now spending his days at his modest £280,000 terraced house in Northumberland and refused to discuss Star’s case when approached by Mailonline.

 Asked to comment on his department’s handling of Star’s case, he replied: ‘I’m sorry you’ll have to go back to Bradford and speak to Bradford council.’

Further, you were asked “Does Star Hobson’s fate affect your personal feelings?”

He said: “I need to refer to Bradford council. I am sorry, but I cannot say more at the moment.”

In October, he stated that he was “extremely proud” of the progress made under his tenure.

Star’s family was left devastated when 5 separate referrals to Bradford City Council’s children’s services division went unheeded for six months prior to Brockhill’s death.

Mark Douglas quit as Children's Service boss a week before the trial began in October

Mark Douglas resigned as Children’s Service chief a week prior to the October trial.

He is now spending his days at a modest £280,000 terraced house in Northumberland

He is now spending his days at a modest £280,000 terraced house in Northumberland

Tragic Star Hobson was murdered in October last year by her mother's girlfriend in attack

Tragic Star Hobson, her mother’s friend in an attack on October 2013 was killed by the attacker.

David Fawcett (61), Star’s great-grandfather, stated that Star was the victim of the evils committed by social workers.

“The social services did nothing to help us and dismissed our complaint as troublemakers, because they didn’t respond.

It was an insult to learn that our claim for malicious intent had been labeled malign when in fact it was the reverse.

Star’s family was desperate to get help because they were concerned about her safety. The end result was much worse than we could have imagined. 

“Nothing was done. It was not one. The referral was immediately thrown out, and the results were repeated by others.

Sources within the council said that Bradford’s children’s department has been in disarray for many years. It was there since at most 2014.

“They couldn’t find experienced social workers to replace them, and they operated at a very low level. This left many children vulnerable.

Mark Douglas was able to agree on some funding, but that wasn’t enough.

Savannah Brockhill

Frankie Smith

Death partners: Savannah Brockhill (28), and Frankie Smith (20) were both convicted in the murder of Star Hobson.

Police have released a harrowing picture of one of the bruises on Star's face that sparked calls to social services from family

Star was bruised on Star’s forehead by Star. Police released this graphic to the media, sparking calls from Star’s family for social services.

“Whoever follows him to this job full-time is in for a tough task.” 

Marium Haque (interim Director for Children’s Services at Bradford Council), made a joint statement along with other members of the local safeguarding alliance from police and health services.

“We are deeply sorry that we did not see all warning signs that would have allowed us to take a stronger statutory enforcement action.”

Mark Douglas abruptly withdrew his resignation on October 15.

While he knew his trial at Bradford Crown Court was scheduled to begin the week after, he chose not to refer to the matter when he declared his resignation.

On October 22, the case was opened. Douglas himself is a North East social worker, and he started his career there. He is listed in the Bradford Council’s biography as having ‘developed new and innovative services’, which include education services for vulnerable children.

He was appointed Assistant Director of Children’s services Northumberland, and then he became Director of Children’s Social Care for Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.

In just three years, he was responsible for turning around Doncaster’s fortunes.

He was to do the exact same thing at Bradford, when he joined an unfavorably criticized department in July 2019.

When he abruptly resigned, he became Bradford Council’s third director of Children’s Services.

An Ofsted 2018 report had criticized the department and called it “inadequate” and warned that children in its care could be harmed. 

Michael Jameson, the director of Gladys Rhodes White’s office, resigned shortly after publication.

Douglas pledged to provide exemplary services in the new city.

Kersten England (Chairman of Bradford Council) stated at that time, “Mark will be key for us achieving these so we put our young people’s voice and needs at the center of everything we do.”

Star’s case was kept under wraps by Star. Star released a statement stating that he is proud of the improvement in children’s services and that it will be continued.

After Steve Walker, a Leeds City Council commissioner was appointed by the government to investigate the “slow pace” of changes in Bradford’s children’s service department, his resignation came quickly.

Ofsted’s October 2018 report stated that services for children had ‘rapidly declined’ since an April 2017 inspection.

The report stated that more kids are in trouble at the same moment as the departures of managers and social workers who were able to return home to help other areas. It was found that the numbers of short-term and agency staff has increased dramatically due to the staff loss.