Anger over Discovery of Climbie Documents
Jason Bennetto Crime Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
THE PUBLIC inquiry into one of Britain's worst child abuse cases was suspended yesterday after important documents on the treatment of Victoria Climbie were discovered in a council filing cabinet.
Lord Laming, the inquiry chairman, said he was "absolutely furious" at the latest blunder in which 71 documents, originally requested in May, were delivered by Haringey Council only yesterday.
Staff at the north London local authority, which was responsible for Victoria's care for seven months before she died in February 2000, found the papers in a filing cabinet despite assurances that all documents had been made available. They include memos about the senior social worker in the case and details of a disciplinary tribunal.
Information that has been drip-fed to the inquiry despite repeated demands for Harin-gey to hand over all papers. The latest instance reopens the prospect that Anne Bristow, the council's director of social services, could be jailed for up to six months and fined pounds 1,000 for breaching a summons to produce all relevant documents.
Lord Laming said he had been promised that Ms Bristow had arranged an "absolutely exhaustive" search for any missing information. He told the council there were no excuses for the "unacceptable delays" it had caused. He said: "It shows a blatant and flagrant disregard to the work of this inquiry. It is a terrible disservice to the other interested parties. It is grossly unreasonable to counsel to the inquiry and its staff."
Victoria, eight, died despite regular contact with social workers, doctors and police. She suffered months of torture at her hands of her great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao and her boyfriend, Carl Manning, who were jailed for life for murder. …