Council attacks Climbie inquiry 'blame'

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The Independent Online

Haringey Council launched an astonishing and vitriolic attack yesterday on the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie. The authority, which has been repeatedly accused of failing to save the eight-year-old from abuse, accused Lord Laming's investigation of point-scoring, fuelling an atmosphere of blame and failing to uncover anything significant.

Victoria's parents, Francis and Berthe Climbie, said they were considering taking legal action against the organisations and individuals who failed their daughter. Victoria was imprisoned, beaten, starved and killed by her great-aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, and her lover Carl Manning, who were both jailed for her murder.

The Government ordered an urgent inquiry into how four councils, two hospitals and two police child-protection teams failed to prevent the tragedy. Through the five-month inquiry Haringey social services, which was the last local authority to deal with Victoria and closed the file on her hours before her death, has been accused of deliberately or incompetently failing to co-operate.

The council's lawyer, Elizabeth Lawson, said: "This inquiry has damaged confidence in services in Haringey ... If it has done so fairly or if the council has brought it on itself, Haringey cannot complain, but in its apparent determination to blame everyone ... this inquiry has ... failed to look at the wider context of the work by individuals from all the agencies and often appeared satisfied with easy point-scoring.''