Mother of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman says race means their deaths weren’t taken seriously

‘I know what Sarah Everard’s parents will be going through,’ Mina Smallman says

Clea Skopeliti
Friday 26 March 2021 10:17
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<p>Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were found dead in a park in Wembley in June</p>

Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were found dead in a park in Wembley in June

The mother of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman, who were killed in a north London park last summer, has said she believes their race meant their deaths were not taken seriously.

In an interview with the BBC, Mina Smallman was asked about the reaction to Sarah Everard’s death, which has triggered protests and widespread outcry, compared with the relatively muted response to her daughters’ killings last year.

Ms Henry and Ms Smallman were killed in a park on 6 June after celebrating Ms Henry’s birthday in Fryent Country Park, Wembley. Two police officers have been arrested and suspended after allegations they took selfies with the women’s bodies.

Ms Smallman, who is the Church of England’s first female archdeacon of black and minority ethnic descent, told the broadcaster that she had reported the sisters as missing but it was a search by the family, not the police, that found the women’s bodies.

Asked whether she believed if their race meant “there was no urgency” in searching for them after the family reported them missing, Ms Smallman said: “Oh absolutely, I’m convinced. I think the notion of ‘all people matter’ is absolutely right, but it’s not true.”

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Comparing the reaction to Ms Everard’s death – pointing to Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan and Priti Patel all offering their condolences – Ms Smallman said the two tragic incidents showed a clear difference in the level of “outcry”.

Ms Smallman told the BBC: “Other people in this world have more kudos than people of colour.

“From my point of view – all women, women of colour, white women – we are on the same journey, we’re on a journey to say that we all matter.”

However, she said the “specific situation of my girls and Sarah” shows that they “didn’t get the same support, the same outcry”.

Following the vigils and protests in the wake of Ms Everard’s death, Ms Smallman said the family has “received so much kickback from friends and colleagues who are saying, ‘Excuse me, where was this level of rage and outrage for two of your daughters murdered?’”

Watching the news after Ms Everard went missing, Ms Smallman said she and her husband “just went back in time emotionally”, adding: “I know what that family, the parents will be going through. It is a hell.”

“If your child goes missing you deserve the people who are paid to do that job to do it and find out what’s happened to them.”

A serving police officer has been charged with Ms Everard’s kidnap and murder, and a separate officer, who was guarding the site where her remains were found, is alleged to have sent a meme about her murder to seven colleagues.

Ms Smallman said: “You can’t believe to understand what it is to lose a child under those circumstances.

“And then to have a further betrayal – the very organisation that is paid, and we have an agreement with, that they will protect us, they will honour us and behave in a way that gives our deceased dignity.”

She added: “To hear that not only had Sarah’s parents lost Sarah, but they had the indignity of someone doing a meme – how heartless.”

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Our thoughts remain with the families of Bibaa and Nicole following their unspeakable loss.”

“As part of a wider investigation into various matters, the Independent Office for Police Conduct is considering the actions of police when Bibaa and Nicole were reported missing. This follows a referral from the MPS’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS).”

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