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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
'I got things terribly wrong'
Lisa Arthurworrey
Lisa Arthurworrey says she thinks about Victoria every day
Lisa Arthurworrey, the social worker responsible for the welfare of Victoria Climbie, has expressed regret at the way in which the case was handled.

BBC News Online presents key excerpts from her first interview, which was given to BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

On Victoria's medical reports:

"I relied on medical information. I had received a report from a doctor plus a report from nurses and neither made mention of physical abuse.

"I knew that Victoria had been examined by a consultant paediatrician and doctors at the North Middlesex hospital. It was not my job or my role to examine her further.

It wasn't until I heard on the news that Kouao and Manning had been arrested for her murder that I realised that I had got things terribly wrong
"Victoria presented as a shy, withdrawn child. She presented as a normal seven year-old.

"Information given to me described Victoria as a bright seven year-old who could speak three languages.

"The medical report that I had received painted a picture of a family who had come over to this country, were trying to find their feet and were having a few problems.

"I found a 19-page fax in my pigeonhole. It was hand-written and difficult to read in places but there was a definitive letter from the consultant paediatrician that said Victoria had been examined and all the marks on her body were put down to scabies.

"Therefore there were no child protection issues but there were a number of social issues.

"I read parts of the fax but found it difficult to read. I skim read it."

On Marie Therese Kouao:

"She was asked how or whether she chastised Victoria, to which she answered 'no'. She gave plausible answers.

"She told us Victoria had a lot of marks on her body but this was because had contracted scabies from a dirty bed and breakfast hostel where they had been staying prior to coming to Haringey.

I think of Victoria every single day - every time I see a child
"When I did go to the flat, the home conditions were very good - clean and tidy. They were as Kouao had told myself and a police officer.

"It wasn't until I heard on the news that Kouao and Manning had been arrested for her murder that I realised that I had got things terribly wrong, because I had perceived Kouao as a caring person who was trying to do her best for her child.

"This little girl had been subjected to all forms of the most horrific abuse. It was all categories of abuse - neglect, emotional, physical. It was horrible."

On her regrets about the case:

"I regret not reading the fax properly because I could have picked up on some of these issues.

"I was Victoria's allocated social worker so in some ways I was responsible. My job was to protect children.

"This is something that has never left me. It is with me every single day and it will continue to be with me for the rest of my life.

"I have suffered a breakdown. I think of Victoria every single day - every time I see a child. She is there all the time.

"I didn't save her, which is what I was paid to do."


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