Climbie inquiry hears of files tampered by staff

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A senior member of Haringey social services was accused on Thursday of tampering with Victoria Climbie's file three days after her death.

The inquiry into one of the worst child abuse cases in Britain was hearing from Lisa Arthurworrey, one of the key figures held publicly responsible for failings in the care of the eight-year-old girl.

Defending herself for the first time, the social worker insisted she had been forced to work in a chaotic environment and attacked several colleagues.

In a statement to the hearing, Miss Arthurworrey claimed she had seen manager Angella Mairs remove a sheet from the girl's file on the day her guardians were charged with murder.

Victoria suffered a "miserable and lonely" death, having been "imprisoned, beaten and starved" for months by her father's aunt Marie Therese Kouao, 45, and her partner Carl Manning, 28, at a flat in Tottenham, north London.

They were able to inflict terrible injuries – 128 at the time of her death – despite repeated involvement by social services, the police and doctors. Both were jailed for life for murder in January.

Miss Arthurworrey, 32, had been "incompetent" and failed to carry out a "proper, careful" investigation, prosecutor Linda Stern QC said at the trial.

In her statement to the inquiry the social worker, who closed the file on Victoria a week before her death, said: "I saw Angella remove the final contact sheet from Victoria's file... on 28 February 2000."

Miss Arthurworrey said she had told one colleague, "but did not tell anyone else because Angella was such a strong personality that I really did not know who to go to".

Yesterday the Haringey social worker, suspended from duties pending disciplinary hearings, admitted she had been "duped" by Victoria's guardians but insisted she was being made a "scapegoat".

She said of thereview into the case: "I got the impression that they were not interested in establishing the true facts."

Miss Arthurworrey also told the inquiry that the girl's death had taken a terrible toll on her health, resulting in chronic insomnia and depression.