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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 14:35 GMT
Council boss ordered to Climbié inquiry
Victoria Climbie died after horrific abuse
The director of Haringey social services has been asked to attend the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié.

The inquiry chairman Lord Laming ordered Anne Bristow to attend after hearing that important documents relating to the case were being handed in late or not at all.

Victoria, eight, died at the hands of her great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao, 44, and her boyfriend Carl Manning, 28.

This inquiry is not a game

Neil Garnham QC
Counsel to the inquiry
The pair were jailed for life for her murder.

Victoria, who was in the care of Haringey social services at the time of her death, had 128 separate injuries when she died in February last year.

She had been kept bound and gagged in a bath and fed on scraps.

Lord Laming was angry that several documents relating to the case had not been provided by Haringey Council.

Neil Garnham QC, counsel to the inquiry, said he had just been given three documents from the council - two of which he was seeing for the first time.

'Deeply disturbing'

"We for our part find it frankly astonishing that this material should come so late," he told the inquiry.

He said the documents were important - one of them deals with what lessons Haringey has learned as a result of the death of Victoria.

Mr Garnham urged Lord Laming to order Ms Bristow, the head of Haringey social services, to attend the inquiry through powers set out in the Local Government Act.

We are trying to ascertain what happened to a child and whether that is likely to happen again

Neil Garnham
He said: "This inquiry is not a game.

"We are about serious matters and we are trying to ascertain what happened to a child and whether that is likely to happen again."

Lord Laming said it was "deeply disturbing" that material came to the inquiry in this form and at such a late stage.

He also criticised the council for "being preoccupied with a paperchase rather than the real issues".

It is totally unacceptable

Lord Laming
"It is just not good enough. In fact, more than that. It is totally unacceptable," Lord Laming said.

"This is an important inquiry. It is a difficult inquiry to conduct and it is an inquiry which is of immense importance, not just in respect of previous practice but in learning the lessons for the future," he said.

Lord Laming said the government attached "considerable importance" to the inquiry being conducted thoroughly and correctly.

"I and my colleagues are working hard to achieve that."

He said he had no alternative but to issue the summons to the director of social services at Haringey.

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