Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Baby P council is 'truly sorry'

Computer graphics of Baby P's injuries
More than 60 visits were made to Baby P by Haringey staff

Haringey Council has said it is "truly sorry" for not doing more to protect 17-month-old Baby P who died after suffering horrific abuse.

In the first apology from the council, Liz Santry, cabinet member for children, said there had been "anguish" about what more might have been done.

It came as the north London council promised its own review - the fourth separate inquiry into Baby P's death.

The government says staff will be held accountable if failings are found.

Councillor Santry said: "For the past 15 months in Haringey, there has been a huge amount of anguish and endless discussion about what we might have done to save this little boy.

"And I have to say also that we are truly sorry that we did not do more to protect him.

Baby P council is 'truly sorry'

"Our duty is to protect our children, and we did not do so in this instance. And I would like to say how truly sorry we are," she added.

The statement is being seen as an about-turn for the council, which up until now has resisted making an apology.

On Tuesday, Sharon Shoesmith, head of Haringey children's services, said: "The very sad fact is that we can't stop people who are determined to kill children."

Baby P's mother and two men are awaiting sentencing for causing his death.

In the meantime, a total of four separate inquiries have now been ordered into how Baby P came to die despite being on the "at risk" register and receiving more than 60 visits from health and social work professionals.

They include:

  • A government inquiry that will examine the role of all agencies in the case of Baby P including the health authority, police and Haringey Council. The review by Ofsted, the Healthcare Commission and the Chief Inspector of Constabulary is due to make an initial report by 1 December
  • An "immediate independent review" announced by Haringey Council to examine its staff's actions and child protection across the north London borough
  • A review by the body that regulates social workers, the General Social Care Council, to look into potential breaches of its code of practice
  • A nationwide review by Lord Laming of his own recommendations after a similar case in Haringey, when eight-year-old Victoria Climbie was tortured to death in 2000

There have also been calls for an independent public inquiry from a cross-party of MPs.

Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, a former Haringey councillor, tabled a Commons motion calling for an inquiry "to restore confidence in the child protection system in this borough".

So far, no one at Haringey Council has lost their job over the case, but children's minister Ed Balls earlier told the BBC: "If there are failures, then there's got to be accountability."

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Paramedics tell Panorama reporter about the moment they found Baby P

He added: "We should all be terribly sorry what happened to this poor little boy. We can't change that, we can't take away his suffering but I'm sorry.

"But being sorry is not enough."

He said the government had to make sure that lessons were learnt and say "it should never happen again".

Haringey Council has welcomed the government review which is already under way, saying it would be "open and co-operative" with inspectors and would implement the findings "swiftly and comprehensively".

While the inquiry takes place, Hampshire's director of children's services, John Coughlan, has been drafted in to take charge of Haringey's children's department.

Haringey said it had moved swiftly to check and strengthen its child protection procedures after the death of Baby P, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Broken back

The young boy died in August last year after suffering 50 injuries including a broken back, fractured ribs and extensive bruising.

It has been reported that seven months later, his mother gave birth in prison to another baby, who was immediately taken into care.

After a nine-week trial at the Old Bailey, Jason Owen, 36, from Bromley, and a 32-year-old man were convicted of "causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable person".

The boy's mother had already pleaded guilty to the same charge, and all three will be sentenced on 15 December.

The mother and her 32-year-old boyfriend also cannot be named.

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Telegraph Baby P: Ministers were warned of babies at risk - 50 mins ago
Washington Post Britain in Shock Over Abuse Death of Toddler - 1 hr ago
Telegraph Baby P: Ministers were warned babies were at risk - 1 hr ago
Sky News Whistleblower Warned Of Failings - 2 hrs ago
Sky News Haringey Alert Was Issued - 2 hrs ago

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