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EDITIONS
 Thursday, 30 May, 2002, 06:30 GMT 07:30 UK
Chances missed to save Victoria
Marie Therese Kouao (left) abused Victoria (centre)
The zero-star rating given to social services at Haringey council in new league tables follows damning criticism over their handling of the Victoria Climbie case.

Victoria was on its books when she died of hypothermia in a Tottenham flat in February 2000.

She had suffered months of abuse at the hands of her great aunt Marie Therese Kouao and her aunt's boyfriend Carl Manning.

She had 128 separate injuries on her body at the time of her death, and the child protection system missed at least 12 chances to save her life, a court was told.

'Lack of action'

Months earlier a Haringey social worker had visited the eight-year-old and her aunt but found nothing untoward.

During an inquiry into the child's care, Neil Garnham QC, the barrister for the inquiry, concluded that she could have been saved if police, health and social services had acted.

Victoria's parents accused Haringey Council of irresponsibility and incompetence, bizarre practices and insensitivity during the hearing.

Victoria and her great-aunt Kouao
Kouao systematically abused Victoria
Victoria's social worker, Lisa Arthurworrey, accused Haringey Council of using her as a "sacrificial lamb".

Haringey Council, in turn, bitterly attacked the inquiry for its "apparent determination to blame everyone from top to bottom".

The lawyer acting for the Climbies, Margot Boye, told the inquiry: "At the heart of their case is that key people charged with the responsibility of ensuring Victoria's safety and welfare simply did not do their jobs."

The girl's parents singled out Gurbux Singh, Haringey's former chief executive and now the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, for the "very disturbing and disappointing" way in which they said he had distanced himself from blame.

The chaotic management style of the social services' office, and the behaviour of Ms Arthurworrey's supervisor Carol Baptiste, also horrified the Climbies, the inquiry was told.

In the league tables, drawn up by the Chief Inspector of Social Services Denise Platt, Haringey was described as "still a poor service for children."

Councillor Takki Sulaiman, the executive member for social services at Haringey, said: "The rating system does not reflect the many improvements we have made over the past two years."


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03 Dec 01 | England
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