Look at yourself before you start laying blame on other people

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It doesn't seem to me that the recently published report into the death of Toni-Ann Byfield is a whitewash. It doesn't seem to me that anyone is attempting to duck their professional responsibilities. It doesn't seem to me, since changes are already under way to address the deep-seated problems highlighted by the report, that anything will be gained from a public inquiry.

It doesn't seem to me that the recently published report into the death of Toni-Ann Byfield is a whitewash. It doesn't seem to me that anyone is attempting to duck their professional responsibilities. It doesn't seem to me, since changes are already under way to address the deep-seated problems highlighted by the report, that anything will be gained from a public inquiry.

But Toni-Ann Byfield's mother, Roselyn Richards, backed by her lawyer, Shazia Khan, thinks differently. Ms Khan says that "Toni-Ann's mother is in this country to get answers as to how her daughter ended up in a bedsit in London and was murdered when she could have been in the care of Birmingham social services". She adds that a public inquiry "is the only adequate and transparent way to ... seriously begin to consider looking at the lessons that need to be learnt following this very tragic death".

I wonder if either woman would be quite so keen on a public inquiry if it was going to look into all of the factors that led to Toni-Ann's murder, instead of just the stuff that can be laid within the sorry remit of Birmingham social services?

I for one find it pretty rich that neither woman seems to comprehend that, while Birmingham social services certainly failed in their "legal duty of care", Ms Richards did something every bit as terrible. She failed in her moral duty of care for her daughter.

First of all, Toni-Ann's mother decided to pack her three-year-old daughter off to Britain with a "family friend" in 2000. Ms Richards did not visit Toni-Ann while she was alive, even after she had been placed in care when her school reported suspicions of physical abuse. What a shame she did not feel then that "I cannot rest until I have answers".

Now one of her urgent questions is "how and why Toni-Ann was with Bertram Byfield". Scant investigation, without the benefit of a public inquiry, again fills in the details. Apparently, the person pushing for Toni-Ann to be placed in the care of Mr Byfield was none other than Ms Richards.

The local press reports that she sent a letter to Birmingham social services nine months before her daughter's death, asking for the care of her daughter to be handed to Mr Byfield. Ms Khan now says: "Whether it is truly a letter from Ms Richards is questionable."

What is not questionable is that it was Ms Richards herself who erroneously led her daughter to believe that Mr Byfield was her father, and vice versa. This is surely a crucial link in the chain of events that led to her death. But no public inquiry would dream of prying into such private little failures.

The large, public failures of Birmingham social services in this case are indeed appalling. But if I were Ms Richards I'd accept that saddling my baby with the mistaken paternity of a crack dealer, sending her off to the country in which he lived, then exhorting that country's social services to put her in his care, had been a contributory factor in her murder. Instead, it appears, people are bending over backwards to reassure Ms Richards that the awful fate of her child is nothing to do with her.

Mojo rises from the ashes of the discredited post office

In the much celebrated Austin Powers sequel, our hero loses his sexual desire, which he refers to as "his Mojo", and then has a riotous time trying to get it back. In the light of the recent Dispatches report on the postal service, I am happy to report on another heroic figure who has regained his Mojo, also against the odds.

Roy Nuttall is a keen birdwatcher, and likes nothing more than to crouch in the bushes in London's Wormwood Scrubs. He was appalled a couple of weeks ago to find a huge pile of partially burned letters marring a quiet spot. He alerted the post office, whose inspectors spent a morning with Roy, being shown the vandalised post, then taking a good proportion of it away in two large sacks.

Mr Nuttall was keen to stay apprised of further developments. It has taken a while, but he has finally learnt that the culprit, a casual worker, has admitted his guilt. The recovered mail will now be delivered to its rightful owners.

One item, though, will not need such treatment. When he first came upon the dumping ground, Mr Nuttall spotted the remnants of the latest issue of Mojo, a music glossy he subscribes to but had not received that month. Joyously, as he picked up the singed item, he noticed that it was addressed to one Roy Nuttall.

The organisation may work in mysterious ways. But it knows how to get a man's Mojo back.

Please, say no more

Kevin Spacey's been out for a walk early in the morning. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Leslie Ash is in hospital with a broken rib. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Hugh Grant is friends with that woman who's married to that golfer. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

All that innuendo. And yet, far from nudging, winking and saying no more, the newspapers have managed to say everything there is to say. Coy and suggestive the reports may be. But we all understand the subtexts.

This little game is not just being played by the popular press. The Observer commented: "A number of sources have made allegations about Spacey's late-night behaviour to The Observer which, if reprinted, would doubtless result in a swift libel suit from his Beverly Hills attorney."

But, of course, the newspapers are only going as far as they do because they are pretty certain that a libel suit is unlikely to be undertaken, and entirely certain that there is no such thing as privacy for "celebrities".

But what kind of celebrity is schoolboy Cameron Montgomerie, who featured in a report on his parents' marriage? The press may be very clever at avoiding libel suits. But every time they push this agenda, they bring the last thing they want, a privacy law with teeth, ever closer.

¿ John Reid popped up on Sky News this week, exhorting us all to exercise vigorously five times a week. Mr Reid, though, looks as though he hasn't exercised since he stopped jogging to the ashtray, on the day he took up his post as Health Secretary. He also looks as if he won't see 65 again, even though he was born in 1947. Government health warnings have an important part to play in the nation's health, but Mr Reid should surely be listening to them rather than delivering them.

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