Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: National inquiry into boy’s death
The killing of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes will be the subject of a national review to protect other children from such evil crimes, the government says.
The six-year-old was tortured and killed by his father and stepmother after social workers found “no safeguarding concerns”.
Emma Tustin was jailed for 29 years for murder and child cruelty and Thomas Hughes got 21 years for manslaughter.
Nadhim Zahawi said: “We will not rest until we have the answers we need.”
The education secretary announced “a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case”.
This “upgrades” the existing local review, launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020, a statement from the Department for Education said.
Meanwhile, the jail terms of Arthur’s killers will be reviewed to “determine whether they were too low”, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Hundreds gathered to release balloons in tribute to Arthur at a vigil near the house where he died in Solihull, West Midlands.
Mr Zahawi has also asked inspectors in social care, health, police and probation to urgently investigate the safeguarding agencies in Solihull to whom Arthur was known.
He said: “Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation. I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.”
Mr Zahawi is expected to make a statement to the House of Commons on Arthur’s case on Monday.
The Department for Education said over the next few days it would work with the national panel and the Solihull partnership to agree a timeline for publication of the national review.
It will also agree the full scope of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection with the agencies involved, it said.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show he believed the prison sentences given to Arthur’s killers were too lenient.
He said: “We’ve announced we are going to raise the sentences for child cruelty and in relation to baby Arthur the attorney has already said that she’s minded to submit an application for a review of the sentence.”
Arthur died of a head injury on 16 June 2020. Tustin had shaken him and banged his head on a hard surface after poisoning him with salt, Coventry Crown Court heard.
He was found to have 130 injuries after being routinely beaten, forced to stand for hours on his own, starved and dehydrated.
Arthur’s paternal grandmother had alerted social services by showing them a photograph of bruising on his body.
He was seen by social workers just two months before his death but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.
The Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, said reviews into Arthur’s death were “not a quick fix”.
“Arthur raised concerns – he was not a baby, he was six years old – he raised concerns and the system did not hear him. We must listen to the voices of children.” she said.
Arthur died during the first national coronavirus lockdown and Dame Rachel said: “We must not close schools again.”
She said: “I think there’s no doubt that lockdown was such a shock to the whole nation that it weakened the system of support, but actually in Arthur’s case he did have a number of professionals around him, he did have home visits, we have to wait to hear exactly what’s happened there.”
The NSPCC welcomed the review and said “no stone should be left unturned”.
“This must be a watershed moment in which we ask ourselves difficult questions about what we can all do, nationally, locally and in our own communities, to keep children safe,” the charity said.