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December 2001 Archived News

Thursday 20 December 2001

 

Witnesses to be Called in Week Beginning 7 January

Friday 14 December 2001

 

Witnesses to be Called in Week Beginning 17 December

Friday 7 December 2001

 

Witnesses to be Called in Week Beginning 10 December


Thursday 20 December
WITNESSES TO BE CALLED IN WEEK BEGINNING 7 JANUARY


VICTORIA CLIMBIE'S great-aunt and killer Marie Therese Kouao will be among those giving evidence to the inquiry into the eight-year-old girl's tragic death in the week beginning 7 January.

The woman who brought Victoria to Britain from the Ivory Coast, via France, and then abused and murdered her - along with her boyfriend Carl Manning - will appear on Tuesday 8 January at the Inquiry's hearing room in Hannibal House, Elephant and Castle, south London.

Inquiry chairman Lord Laming made it clear at the launch of the Inquiry, in May, that a number of options were being considered as to how best to obtain evidence from Kouao about the services she sought on her, and Victoria's, behalf from the government agencies involved in the case.

However, on Friday 23 November, he decided that the convicted murderer should give her evidence in person, after being told by the Inquiry's leading counsel Neil Garnham QC that she had repeatedly refused to answer the investigation's questions.

Lord Laming was advised by Mr Garnham that: 'Kouao may feel rather more reluctant to refuse to cooperate with this Inquiry and to answer our questions if such a refusal is to be made from the chair in front of you rather than from the relative comfort of a room in a prison.'

Before deciding to call Kouao, Lord Laming was also informed that two parties with a close interest in the investigation - Victoria's parents and Haringey council - had requested that she be called to the hearing room to assist the Inquiry.

Manning, meanwhile, will be questioned by Mr Garnham via a video link on Thursday 10 January, with the tape of the interview being played to the investigation at a date yet to be decided.





Contacts:


Paul Rees, Communications Manager
Tel: 020 7972 1999
Fax: 020 7972 1981
Mobile: 07884 473 355
paul.rees@victoriaclimbie.org

                or

Lara Williams, Press Officer
Tel: 020 7972 2018
Fax: 020 7972 1981
Mobile: 07884 473 468
lara.williams@victoriaclimbie.org

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Friday 14 December
WITNESSES TO BE CALLED IN WEEK BEGINNING 17 DECEMBER


A FORMER Haringey councillor who - according to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry leading counsel - believes that decisions about the funding of the council's social services were considered in the context of 'electoral advantage' appears next week (17-21 December).

Neil Garnham QC told the Inquiry in his opening statement on Wednesday 26 September that Craig Turton, a Haringey councillor from 1994 to 1998, maintains that services that had a 'high public profile and which served a majority of the population' were funded 'at the expense of services of which the general public were considered to be both relatively unaware and which served a minority of the population' such as social services.

Mr Turton also believes - said Mr Garnham - that these 'political decisions…led to the inadequate funding of (the) Housing and Social Services Department, which, in turn, contributed to the failure of the service to care for and protect Victoria Climbié'.

Also appearing on Tuesday will be Gurbux Singh, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, who will be questioned about his former role as Chief Executive of Haringey.

Taking the stand the next day will be Mary Richardson, Haringey's ex Director of Housing and Social Services who was responsible for a restructuring programme in 1999 which, according to Pauline Bradley of Unison in her evidence to the Inquiry, 'virtually paralysed' the child protection service for the period during which council should have been protecting Victoria. Ms Bradley also told the Inquiry she believed the programme was a major factor in her death.

Mr Garnham told the Inquiry that before the programme was implemented, Ms Richardson received a memorandum from 12 senior practitioners and team managers criticising the proposals as 'potentially dangerous and detrimental to the people to whom we offer a service' and causing 'a great deal of distress to staff across the district'. According to Mr Garnham, Ms Richardson provided no substantive response to the memorandum.





Contacts:


Paul Rees, Communications Manager
Tel: 020 7972 1999
Fax: 020 7972 1981
Mobile: 07884 473 355
paul.rees@victoriaclimbie.org

                or

Lara Williams, Press Officer
Tel: 020 7972 2018
Fax: 020 7972 1981
Mobile: 07884 473 468
lara.williams@victoriaclimbie.org

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Friday 7 December
WITNESSES TO BE CALLED IN WEEK BEGINNING 10 DECEMBER


THE SOCIAL worker who - according to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry leading counsel - missed two opportunities to save the tragic eight-year-old will take the stand next week (10-14 December).

In his opening statement to the Inquiry on Wednesday 26 September, Neil Garnham QC questioned whether Haringey council social worker Petra Kitchman adequately followed up a letter from Dr Rossiter of North Middlesex hospital outlining her 'enormous concerns' about Victoria. He said that instead of having a face-to-face discussion with Dr Rossiter she merely had an informal chat with her on the phone.

According to Mr Garnham, Ms Kitchman then received a second letter from Dr Rossiter, asking for details of Victoria's schooling and GP. This was, said Mr Garnham, another missed opportunity to save Victoria. Ms Kitchman will appear on Monday.

Taking the stand on Tuesday, will be Carol Wilson, Haringey's then Assistant Director of Children's Services who - according to Mr Garnham - told the Inquiry that 'in 1999 there was not really a problem of a serious shortage of staff'. By contrast, the Haringey branch of Unison has stated the vacancy rate, at the time, was continuously high and sometimes above 40 per cent.

Appearing on Friday will be Mary Richardson, Haringey's former Director of Housing and Social Services who was responsible for a restructuring programme in 1999 which, according to Pauline Bradley of Unison in her evidence to the Inquiry, 'virtually paralysed' the child protection service for the period during which council should have been protecting Victoria. Ms Bradley also told the Inquiry she believed the programme was a major factor in her death.

Mr Garnham told the Inquiry that before the programme was implemented, Ms Richardson received a memorandum from 12 senior practitioners and team managers criticising the proposals as 'potentially dangerous and detrimental to the people to whom we offer a service' and causing 'a great deal of distress to staff across the district'. According to Mr Garnham, Ms Richardson provided no substantive response to the memorandum.<





Contacts:


Paul Rees, Communications Manager
Tel: 020 7972 1999
Fax: 020 7972 1981
Mobile: 07884 473 355
paul.rees@victoriaclimbie.org

                or

Lara Williams, Press Officer
Tel: 020 7972 2018
Fax: 020 7972 1981
Mobile: 07884 473 468
lara.williams@victoriaclimbie.org

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