Three doctors warned that Baby P, the 17-month-old boy who died at the hands of his guardians in August last year, was the victim of apparent abuse yet the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to bring criminal charges against his mother.
The warnings were given in statements that formed part of the evidence that police collected while investigating allegations of assault against the child's 27-year-old mother.
Signs of an assault were spotted in December 2006 when Baby P was admitted to the Whittington Hospital in north London with bruises on his head and body. In January 2007, a doctor gave a statement to police saying the injuries were "suggestive of non-accidental harm". In July, two more doctors said the same thing. On 1 August, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) phoned Baby P's mother to tell her she would not face charges. Two days later, the child died.
Yesterday, a CPS spokesman said: "We did not have substantial evidence with regards to what caused the injuries, when they were caused or whom they were caused by. We need to know all of that before we can charge someone. Although the medical evidence suggested the injuries were non-accidental, it did not give us anything specific upon which to bring charges."
The Children's Secretary Ed Balls outlined new laws yesterday to protect vulnerable children. But he admitted they would not have saved Baby P. He died despite having been on Haringey Council's child protection register for eight months and having being seen 60 times by health and social workers.
The new legislation will require every local authority to set up a multi-agency Children's Trust Board – something that Haringey has had in place since 2004. Mr Balls said: "I don't think we are saying for a moment that the boards and these measures would have prevented what happened."
At a Haringey Council cabinet meeting last night, the council's leader, George Meehan, formally apologised for the death of Baby P and admitted that there had been "failure by all the agencies" involved in his protection. Haringey Council was also the authority involved in the Victoria Climbié case in 2000. Calls are continuing for a full public inquiry. The Children's minister, Beverley Hughes, has said that Lord Laming will conduct a national review into child protection services.
Last week, Baby P's mother, her boyfriend, 32, and their lodger, Jason Owen, 36, were convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child.