Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 10:57 UK

Rape by Baby P man sparks inquiry

Haringey Council leader Claire Kober: 'I offer apologies for our failure'

An independent review is under way into how Haringey social services dealt with the case of a girl raped by one of the men responsible for Baby P's death.

The 32-year-old boyfriend of Baby P's mother was found guilty on Friday of raping the girl when she was aged two.

She, like Baby P - whose name has been revealed as Peter - was on the north London council's child protection list.

The detail of the case and the role of different agencies will be examined as part of a Serious Case Review.

Lord Laming, the government's expert on children's services, said it was "dispiriting" that some child protection systems were still not working, six years after his report into the death of Victoria Climbie.

Child's evidence

Peter's mother was cleared of cruelty to the girl at the end of the Old Bailey trial.

In November the woman's boyfriend was convicted of causing the death of Peter while she earlier admitted the same charge.

The 17-month-old boy died in August 2007 having suffered more than 50 injuries and despite being seen by the authorities on at least 60 occasions.

The pair, who cannot be named, are due to be sentenced along with lodger Jason Owen, who was convicted of the same charge over Baby Peter, on 21 and 22 May.

The attack on the girl, now aged four, came to light when the man and Peter's mother were arrested for his death.

Baby P's grandmother on Panorama - 'BabyP: the Whole Truth'

Her abuser's denial meant she became the youngest child to give evidence at the Old Bailey, through a video link.

Children's charity the NSPCC warned young witnesses need more assistance in court cases.

Chief executive Wes Cuell said: "It's a big challenge for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to regard a child as a credible witness.

"Getting more of these cases to a successful conclusion does rely on preparing children for the ordeal they'll face when they go to court."

The same day the rapist was convicted, the findings of a Serious Case Review into Peter's death were revealed.

Graham Badman, chair of the Haringey Local Safeguarding Children Board, said the report concluded his death could and should have been prevented.

He will now conduct the investigation into the girl's case.

Haringey Council's new leader, Councillor Claire Kober, has insisted changes will be made.

'Terrible acts'

"All the agencies in Haringey responsible for child protection are now implementing an action plan to improve children's services," she said.

"We accept that things went badly wrong with our child protection services. It is our job to put them right."

The council has already sacked former social services chief Sharon Shoesmith, along with three social workers.

Baby P
Baby P's mother admitted causing his death in August 2007

Speaking after the verdicts, Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "It... makes me more determined that we do everything we can in Haringey, and right across the country, to put the safety of children first."

'Unacceptable'

Lord Laming, who reviewed child protection in England in the wake of Baby P's death, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that more training was needed for frontline staff.

He also called for a national unit to be set up to make a "robust report" into how much progress had been made.

"In some local authorities 50% of the staff have less than two years' experience. This is unacceptable," he said.

"We must judge the managers not on glossy brochures or bold words but on outcomes for children."

He said he believed the state should "become a parent" to more children.

"That doesn't mean that children have got to be snatched away - let's not go from one extreme to the other - but I do think that there has been a reluctance in some authorities to bring these cases in front of the court."

Baroness Delyth Morgan, a minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, said that all of Lord Laming's recommendations would be implemented.

But she declined to agree with him that the state should take over the care of more children.

Meanwhile Baby P's grandmother has spoken to the BBC's Panorama programme, saying she had been warned not to visit her grandson's grave in case people "turned" on her.

In an interview to be aired on Monday she said: "I haven't been able to put a flower or say a prayer or say sorry."

Panorama: Baby P - The Whole Truth? will be shown on Monday 4 May, at 2030 BST on BBC One.



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SEE ALSO
Baby P man guilty of raping girl
01 May 09 |  London
Baby P's carers 'lacked urgency'
01 May 09 |  London
Baby P report branded 'unlawful'
10 Mar 09 |  England
Sacked Baby P boss lodges claim
09 Mar 09 |  England
What happened to Baby P?
18 Nov 08 |  Front page
Timeline: Key events in baby case
14 Nov 08 |  London
Profile: Lord Laming
12 Mar 09 |  UK

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