Hamzah Khan: Authors of review deny 'whitewash' over boy whose mummified remains were discovered years after death

Children's minister Edward Timpson attacks 'no-one to blame' findings

The authors of a serious case review that found no one except the child's mother was responsible for a four year-old boy starving to death at his home denied their report into the tragedy was a whitewash.

Children's minister Edward Timpson has written to Bradford Safeguarding Children's Board (BSCB) expressing "deep concerns" over the findings into Hamzah Khan whose mummified body was discovered two years later by police.

Mr Timpson said questions still needed answering and called for urgent clarification from the panel on the actions of social workers who had repeated contact with the family.

The boy's Amanda Hutton, 43, was jailed last month for 15 years for the manslaughter of her son and concealing his body amid scenes of extreme squalor at the family home in Bradford, West Yorkshire. 

The child, who was still wearing a babygro when he died, was seriously undersized but had simply "fallen off the radar" of social workers and medical services.

Mrs Hutton, an alcoholic mother of eight who was the victim of domestic abuse, also admitted neglecting her five other children.

Bradford Council's director of children's services Kath Tunstall said no one in her department would lose their job over the case.

"There is no evidence in the information that's been considered that says that an individual was responsible."

Amanda Hutton: Five of her children were found living in a 'breathtakingly awful' state (PA) Amanda Hutton: Five of her children were found living in a 'breathtakingly awful' state (PA) But in a letter to the board Mr Timpson expresses the Government's dismay at the report.

"In particular, I am concerned that it fails to explain sufficiently clearly the actions taken, or not taken by children's social care when problems in the Khan family were brought to their attention on a number of occasions," he said

Professor Nick Frost, who chairs the BSCB, said. "It's not a whitewash. I will undertake the action requested by the minister. We are totally committed to transparency in this case." 

He said: "The SCR is very clear that Hamzah's death could not have been predicted but finds that systems, many of them national systems, let Hamzah down both before and following his death."

Prof Frost added: "Very sadly, I cannot give assurances that a tragedy like this will never happen again in our country - as we can't control or predict the behaviour of all parents, the vast majority of whom are doing their very best to care for their children."

Hamzah was found starved to death in his cot in September 2009 beside his favourite teddy due to the diligent inquiries of a local police officer.

The child was not registered with a GP and had not received the necessary immunisations. He died a year before he was due to start school. When challenged over his whereabouts, his mother said he had moved to Portsmouth with a family member - a claim that was never challenged.

At the trial of Ms Hutton, Bradford Crown Court heard that conditions at the four-bedroom house in September 2011 when he was discovered were "breathtakingly awful."

Among the questions raised in the minister's letter were whether assessments should have been made of siblings during crises in the children's lives.

But although there were repeated contacts with social services and the police no one could see the whole picture.

The Government has set up a panel to assist in Serious Case Reviews which are carried out by local safeguarding boards following such tragedies such as those of Baby P. they are designed to provide analysis and a narrative of events rather than scapegoat social workers. However ministers believe the quality of some of the reports, which are not always published, is variable.

George Galloway, Respect MP for the area of Bradford where Hutton and her family lived, said: "We are expected to believe from this review that despite numerous inquiries and alerts, from neighbours, the involvement of the police, teachers, social services - a whole multiplicity of agencies - despite the obvious signs from the house, the smell which was overpowering, the state of the other children, that the death of Hamzah Khan could not be predicted.

"Well, what could be predicted, and I did, is that those investigating this deeply sad and troubling death would thoroughly coat themselves in whitewash, which they have done."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
tvGame of Thrones season 5 episode 1 review
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
News
i100
News
people
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Sport
Fabian Delph celebrates his goal
footballChristian Benteke and Fabian Delph turn semi-final after Liverpool goal
Life and Style
Model wears: top £29.50, leggings £25, jacket £29.50, bag £25, all marksandspencer.com
fashion
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary
music
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace