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Sunday, 3 February, 2002, 10:43 GMT
Climbie parents 'to pursue agencies'
Victoria's parents
Berthe and Francis Climbie spoke to the BBC
Victoria Climbie's parents will continue to pursue the people in charge of the agencies which they say failed their murdered daughter.

Berthe and Francis Climbie say they feel let down by Britain following the abuse and murder of their eight-year-old daughter.

In their first broadcast interview about one of Britain's worst child abuse cases, they told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme the case was "beyond human understanding".

Victoria and her great-aunt Kouao
Kouao abused Victoria
They blame British agencies for failing to act on dozens of identifiable injuries on her body - the subject of an ongoing public inquiry.

Victoria was killed by her carer and great-aunt Marie Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning in February 2000 after a horrific catalogue of violence.

Mrs Climbie said that numerous agencies, including Ealing and Haringey social services, the police child protection unit, and Central Middlesex and North Middlesex hospitals, should have detected the abuse earlier.

She said: "The people I blame, really, are the agencies in this country. This country is seen as a big country.

"The people who should have come to my daughter's support and protection were professionals.


Today we are still asking the question why

Berthe Climbie
"These are people who have been trained to do their job.

"These are people who should have done their job under their policies and procedures, but today we have learned that there has been negligence from them, and because of that they have failed my daughter."

Mr Climbie said he thanked the British Government for holding the public inquiry which had revealed high levels of negligence.

Asked if he would consider legal action beyond the inquiry he said:

"We believe the only way things will change is if we continue to pursue those that are responsible for these agencies.

"The hierarchy of these agencies need to pay for the negligence."

'Duped'

Mr and Mrs Climbie travelled from the Ivory Coast to Britain for the public inquiry.

They spoke through a translator for the BBC interview, broadcast on Sunday.

Victoria's mother added: "When Victoria was in our hands she was very well looked after.

Carl Manning
Killer Manning has apologised to parents
"We might have been poor, but we always had sufficient food to eat, we always had shelter."

She said the agencies had "passed the buck" rather than take responsibility for failing Victoria.

Kouao and Manning were jailed for life for the murder.

Mr Climbie said they had had no fears about sending Victoria to stay with Kouao, who was treated as a grandmother.

He said the education system in Europe was highly considered in Africa and Kouao's situation offered a good opportunity for Victoria.

"We did not see it as any other than a grandmother trying to help her grandchildren," he added.

"We had high hopes for Victoria. Marie-Therese was the chance for us to have our daughter educated in Europe."

Monster

Mr Climbie, who has a strong religious faith, says he did not what to judge his aunt.

"We don't need to make judgement, we only need to look at her actions," he said.

"What is the percentage of people in Britain, given her actions, who do not think that Marie-Therese is a monster.

"There is a proverb in my language that says your actions are louder than what you say out of your mouth."

The public inquiry was suspended on Friday over the late arrival of vital documents from Haringey Council, which left the inquiry chairman Lord Laming "absolutely furious".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Victoria Climbie's parents remember their daughter
"Her mind was bigger than her age and her size"
See also:

03 Feb 02 | BH
Victoria Climbié's legacy
03 Dec 01 | England
Climbie official faces prosecution
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