New Haringey inquiry over allegations of second child abuse case

Relates to:
Date: 2008-12-07
Source: Times On Line

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POLICE are investigating allegations that a second child was abused while in the care of Haringey council.

The fresh inquiry comes as the council’s leader resigned and its head of children’s services was removed from her post last week following the local authority’s mishandling of the case of Baby P, who died from horrific abuse despite being on the council’s at-risk register. A government report last week identified “devastating” systemic failures in the council’s care of children at risk.

The latest concerns relate to a five-year-old boy, known as Child C, who was taken into care and then adopted under the supervision of the council’s social workers.

Allegations have now surfaced that he has since been admitted to hospital with head injuries on two occasions.

Child C was also said to have been “emotionally and behaviourally disturbed” when observed at his nursery and is said to scream at night in his room, while his adoptive mother wants nothing to do with him.

An inquiry was launched after the allegations were presented to Haringey council last month in a letter written by Hamish Cameron, a consultant in child psychiatry who is aware of Child C’s history.

In a reply sent on November 24, Sharon Shoesmith, who was last week removed as head of Haringey children’s services for her department’s failures over Baby P, agreed Cameron’s concerns should be investigated.

“In the light of the concerns raised in your letter, I agree that we should now thoroughly investigate the issues that have been raised,” she wrote.

The council has now asked detectives from the Metropolitan police and investigators from the NSPCC to launch an inquiry.

Child C’s short life has already been very traumatic. He has twice been snatched by Haringey social workers, once even from one of their own foster carers who was considered to have the wrong racial background.

He was first taken into care when he was just a few weeks old after it was apparent that the infertile couple purporting to be his parents were not actually related to him. It transpired that prior to being brought to the UK he had been born in Kenya and presented to the “mother” as a supposedly “miracle baby” by controversial evangelical pastor Gilbert Deya.

Deya, who is based in Peckham, south London, is now facing extradition to Kenya where he is wanted on child trafficking charges. His wife Mary was convicted there of child theft in 2007 and sentenced to two years in prison.

Since its first intervention in November 2003, when Child C was snatched from his “parents” by a team of nine police officers, Haringey council has faced allegations that it has acted in both a heavy-handed manner and also allowed the child to suffer emotionally and physically.

Child C was placed in five short-term foster placements before finding stability. His sixth, and final, foster carer, who looked after him for 15 months, forged a strong bond with the child, but partly because her north African ethnic background was different to that of the boy, Haringey council opposed her application to adopt him.

Instead, social workers fast-tracked his adoption by a black couple of Caribbean origin instead.

A judge ordered a gradual handover of Child C, but instead he was snatched screaming from outside the foster carer’s home by social workers without being allowed to even say goodbye.

A complaint about the manner of the removal made by the foster carer was partially upheld. An report into the complaint acknowledged that the removal was “sudden and very quick but not brutal”.

Cameron said, however: “There has been a miscarriage of justice and the child will be severely traumatised.”

Since being placed with the adoptive parents allegations have surfaced that Child C was admitted to intensive care in a coma in 2006, something Haringey has denied, as well as also being taken to hospital earlier this year with a head injury.

The adoptive mother is said to have demanded money from the council which she said she was owed and tried to leave Child C with social workers, complaining the boy was “wrecking my marriage”.

Cameron said: “We need an investigation which is independent of Haringey into the welfare of this child.

“The question is, once the local authority is in charge of the welfare of a child who monitors the local authority? The answer is no one.

“There’s no way of alerting anyone to the welfare of such a child until they are dead.”

A spokesman for Haringey council said: “We can confirm that we have asked the police and the NSPCC to investigate an allegation of abuse.

“Because of that investigation we cannot comment further.”

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