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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 20:50 GMT
Climbies to sue over Victoria's death
Victoria Climbie
Climbie's parents wanted to give her a better chance in Britain

The parents of murdered Victoria Climbie plan to take legal action against the police and five other authorities, it was announced on Friday.

Berthe and Francis Climbie say they will sue the Metropolitan Police, three councils and two hospital trusts, following the death of their eight-year-old daughter.

The six parties have been notified of the intention to bring a claim for damages through the High Court in London, the Climbie's solicitor said.

Victoria died in February 2000, from abuse and neglect while living with her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning. They were jailed for life for her murder.

'Avoided'

Raju Bhatt, solicitor for Francis and Berthe Climbie, said the Climbie's case would be stopped if the authorities involved made an admission of moral and legal liability.

As well as the Metropolitan Police, the action is proposed to be taken against the London Boroughs of Haringey, Brent and Ealing, and the NHS Trusts for Central Middlesex and North Middlesex Hospitals.

Berthe and Francis Climbie
The Climbies believe 'reckless indifference' was shown to Victoria

At the end of last month Lord Laming published a damning report into the "breathtaking" and "lamentable" failings in the case.

After a year-long public inquiry, the peer said he believed Victoria's death could so easily have been avoided if the social workers, police and hospital staff who came into contact with her had simply followed "basic good practice".

He commented that the failings were "a disgrace".

Mr Bhatt said Victoria's parents had now had time to consider the implications of the inquiry findings.

We will give this matter our full consideration
Met Police spokesman

He said: "They consider that there can be no dispute about the reckless indifference which coloured the failure of all the relevant authorities ... to protect Victoria from the most unimaginable and painful torture over several months leading to her eventual death."

He said they felt their daughter's memory required them to ensure all relevant authorities accepted moral as well as legal responsibility for the way in which they failed her.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed it had received a letter "notifying us that legal representatives of Victoria Climbie's parents intend to pursue a civil action".

Abuse

"We will give this matter our full consideration," he said.

Victoria came to Britain from the Ivory Coast to stay with her great-aunt who had promised a better life.

Instead, Kouao and her boyfriend Manning starved, beat, burned and tied up Victoria in a freezing bathroom.

The little girl was seen by dozens of social workers, nurses, doctors and police officers before she died but all failed to spot and stop the abuse which eventually killed her.

The third anniversary of Victoria's death takes place on Tuesday, when a memorial service in her name will be held at the West London Crematorium in Kensal Green, London.





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