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Care chief in child death case resigns: Danger warnings 'were ignored'

THE DIRECTOR of a social services department which was severely criticised for ignoring repeated warnings about the safety of three-year- old Leanne White, who was battered to death by her stepfather, resigned yesterday.

David White, Nottinghamshire's director of social service for five years, left his pounds 47,000-a-year post just hours before members of the county council's ruling Labour group were expected to discuss his future.

The social services department was strongly criticised in a Nottinghamshire County Council report which accused it of 'serious deficiencies' and 'unacceptably low standards'. Mr White, 47, said in a statement that he had regretfully come to the conclusion that it was not in the interests of the council or himself to stay in the post.

Leanne's grandmother, Mary Street, said: 'I am the happiest person alive today . . . I have waited so long to hear this. I've always said the buck should stop with him. He was the head of social services who let it happen. He should have gone sooner. I'm delighted he's done the right thing at last.'

Leanne's stepfather, Colin Sleate, 29, a car mechanic, was jailed for life last November for murdering the child, who died with 107 injuries and had suffered internal bleeding after being hit so hard that her abdomen was ruptured and her ribs cracked. Her mother, Tina White, 23, was jailed for 10 years for manslaughter.

Nottingham Crown Court had heard that neighbours and relatives gave Nottinghamshire social services seven warnings, but that Leanne still suffered months of physical and mental abuse. She was never examined, the police were never told, and she was not on the Child Protection Register.

Until yesterday Mr White had resisted calls to resign, the most recent of which came at last week's social services committee meeting.

Mr White said in his statement that during his term as director there had been many changes, particularly in responding to new legislation. He said he had faced many challenges and he believed the department was now in much better shape. He also paid tribute to his staff for the way they did their work.

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Dennis Pettitt, who praised Mr White's 'energetic work on behalf of the county council', said his contract had two years to run and would be honoured in a mutually acceptable way.