Nadhim Zahawi today launched a review of how officials dealt with the case of tragic six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, as he said ‘no government can legislate for evil’ but ministers would ‘take action to stop it whenever we can’.
The Education Secretary said the review by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will scrutinise the world of Solihull Children’s Safeguarding Partnerships, while police and probation inspectors would carry out their own linked inspections.
This action follows the discovery that Arthur was seen only two months before his passing by social workers. They concluded that there were “no safeguarding issues”.
Emma Tustin (32) was the boy’s stepmother and was sentenced to life in prison at Coventry Crown Court. She was found guilty of her husband’s murder. Thomas Hughes (29), was sentenced 21 years.
This afternoon, the Education Secretary made a statement in the Commons about the review
Arthur was murdered by Emma Tustin (32), his stepmother and Thomas Hughes (29), who subjected him and others to torture and other abuses that were ‘unimaginable.
Mr Zahawi confirmed a review and targeted inspection will take place as part of efforts to assess why things went ‘horrifyingly wrong and what more could be done to prevent abuse such as this happening again’.
According to him, MPs have been informed that the government has strengthened multi-agency cooperation since the tragic deaths of Peter Connelly and Daniel Pelka. This means the police, health and councils in the local area are now sharing the same duty to protect and promote children’s welfare. Schools also play a part.
“I think members will agree that the House has made improvements from the previous reviews. The question is, however, whether it is sufficient.
Mr Zahawi, on the targeted area inspection jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Probation, said: ‘This will mean we can truly look at where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in the Solihull area, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.’
Minister said that the review will examine how social workers can ‘work directly alongside families’ instead of relying on ‘behind a computer screen’.
He added: ‘Sunlight is the best possible disinfectant, because if we are to improve services we must share data and evidence.
Arthur died tragically due to the cruelty of his father, and the father’s spouse.
“No government anywhere in the world has the power to legislate for evil. However, we will act wherever it is possible to put an end to it.
‘We must do more. Anyone suspecting child abuse should contact their local authority.
Report any concerns or problems you have.
Boris Johnson, speaking on Friday in Shropshire during a campaign visit, promised that he would leave no stone unturned to determine what went wrong.
He said that it was crucial to learn from his mistakes and figure out how to help the child.
A large number of people gathered in front Tustin’s old address, where Arthur was murdered, on Sunday afternoon to release balloons and to lay flowers as a tribute.
Emma Tustin 32 (left), killed Arthur by repeatedly smashing his head onto a hard surface. Thomas Hughes 29, meanwhile, had been starving Arthur. They also poisoned him using salt.
The balloons rose into the air and were greeted by a crowd of people who clapped. There was also a string with letters reading ‘Arthur’. Others placed drawings and posters on the property to pay tribute to the 6-year-old.
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO), confirmed Saturday that Hughes’ and Tustin’s sentences were to be reviewed.
AGO has 28-days from date of sentencing to review the case and determine if it is covered under Unduly Lenient Sentence. If so, they can make a recommendation as to whether to refer the sentence to Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal makes an order in the case that has been referred.
A spokesperson for AGO claimed that the Attorney General was thinking of Arthur and his family.
“I confirm that Emma Tustin’s and Thomas Hughes’ sentences were referred to Attorney General to be reviewed to see if they are too low.
According to an NSPCC spokesperson, “We are united in our determination that every stone must be taken when examining exactly what occurred before Arthur’s death and what more can have been done for his protection and eventual rescue.”
“This should be a turning point in which all of us ask difficult questions about our collective ability to protect children, both nationally and locally.
“We are pleased to announce a national review on Arthur’s tragic death, and an inspection of the partnership work arrangements. These findings must be implemented by the Government.
“Everyone can play a part in keeping our children safe. We need political leadership at a national level – including addressing the significant shortfall facing children’s services. We need multi-agency, effective early intervention for abuse concerns at the local level.
Susanna Reid claims that Arthur’s leader in social work tried to shift responsibility by suggesting that Arthur’s grandmother shouldn’t have reported his unusual bruising more. Even though she DID inform social workers.
Susanna Reid said she was’stunned” today by an accusation of child protection experts. Arthur Labinjo Hughes’s grandmother was responsible for telling social workers and medics that he had ‘unusual’ bleeding on his back.
Wendy Thorogood (chair of the Association of Child Protection Professionals) stated that referrals to medical professionals could provide a faster response to injuries than simply telling social workers.
Joanne Hughes took photographs of Arthur’s bruised shoulder and referred him to Solihull Council. After concluding that the bruises had been caused by play, social workers called back the next day to report ‘no concerns.
He was then murdered by Emma Tustin (32) and Thomas Hughes (29) who tortured and abused him for ‘unimaginable’ reasons.
Joanne Hughes took pictures of Arthur’s injuries (photos below) and sent them to Solihull Council.
Wendy Thorogood chair of Association of Child Protection Professionals said that referral to medical professionals could yield a faster response than telling social workers. Susanna is left’stunned.
Susanna Reid, Good Morning Britain’s host, said that she was stunned by Ms. Hughes suggesting they could do more.
She replied, “I’m sorry. I’m just shocked.”
If you want to be treated as the grandmother, [Ms Hughes]It all comes down to ”…’
Ms. Thorogood said, “I did not say that it was down to the grandmother. But at the moment the child could’ve been medically evaluated.” Although my words may sound a little distorted, it is what I meant. It would have stopped a delay.
Martin Lewis, Ms Reid’s cohost, invited Ms Thorogood for a discussion about Arthur’s case and the possible ways that social services might have responded.
M. Lewis started by asking Wendy: “There are many lessons to learn here Wendy. But I think if you start with the larger question: Can this ever stop from happening again? Is that even possible?”
Ms. Thorogood responded: “I believe we need to believe we can make an impact, but up to 70 children die every year. This is where we learn lessons. It is something we have been dealing with for many years.
Ms Reid added her voice and asked: “I want you to ask me, because there were many opportunities to save Arthur. It would be false to say that Arthur’s crimes went unpunished because Arthur’s grandparents raised concerns, Arthur’s uncle raised concerns, social services visited. How do I notify social services if my grandparent is concerned?
Ms Thorogood said, “As professionals they need to be trained to detect manipulation,”
“Just one thing. This bruising was evidently shared with social work and the picture was shared by police. While I am not critiquing her actions, it is something I wish she had done.
“Because you have the ability to take a photo at any moment, it is possible to use the evidence. However, health workers also make up part of this system, which could have helped trigger a faster multi-system assessment.
Ms Reid asked: “When you say “she”, do you mean the social worker?” Ms. Thorogood replied, ‘The grandmother. If she took the photo… I appeal to anyone concerned that a child may have visible bruises and seek medical care.
An incredulous Ms Reid responded: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but she went into social services. Do you mean that social service couldn’t intervene? The grandmother had to look for further assistance?”
Ms. Thorogood responded: “It would trigger an Intervention, it triggered a point for a social worker to go out but it’s the issue of delay and severity when that was done and I wouldn’t disparage anybody who made a referral.
Ms Reid stated, “I don’t get why you suggest that the grandmother should do more,”
Ms Thorogood said she was not trying to blame Arthur’s grandmother. She wanted to give advice for people who might be in similar situations.
Wendy immediately responded by saying, “I am not saying that grandmother could have done more. However, I do want to emphasize that anyone who sees unusual bleeding should seek medical assistance.
“I’m sorry. I’m just shocked,” Ms Reid, mother of three said. “Because, I would think once you called social services, they are the ones who trigger it, and they have the responsibility. They also hold the legal power.
“And, if you are told that you were the grandmother, it is down to you ‘…’
Ms Thorogood said, “I didn’t say it’s down to her grandmother. But, at that time in the moment, the child might have been medically,” she added. “My words have been slightly misunderstood, but I am simply stating that it would have prevented any delay.