The chief inspector of social services, Denise Platt, failed to
submit a vital document to the Victoria Climbie Inquiry because she
was unaware of its relevance.
The document, an internal review of a 1999 joint review of
Haringey social services, which called into question the joint
review’s conclusion that service users in the borough were
“generally well served”, was given to the inquiry three weeks after
phase one had ended.
In a statement to the inquiry, reopened for two days this week
to seek an explanation from Platt for the late submission of the
paper, she said: “It did not occur to me that the internal review
might be relevant to the Victoria Climbie‚ inquiry.”
Platt, who declined to appear in person, said in the statement
read by her lawyer that she had been advised that the inquiry was
interested only in communications between the Social Services
Inspectorate and agencies and documents specific to Victoria’s case
and “was not concerned with material surrounding the production of
the joint review or SSI inspection”.
She said: “With hindsight, I accept that the internal review was
relevant to the inquiry. I sincerely apologise for not appreciating
The decision to carry out the review, which looked at the
methodology of joint reviews, was made following the conviction of
Marie Therese Kouao and Carl Manning in January 2001. Differences
between the 1999 joint review and a 2000 SSI report had emerged
during the pair’s trial.
Platt said the Social Services Inspectorate and the Audit
Commission decided to conduct a joint internal review of the joint
review, which would look at the methodology of the process “to see
what lessons we could learn about the joint review process”.
“It was not,” she added, “designed to enable us or anyone else
to second guess the joint review.”
In January this year Platt told inquiry chairperson Lord Laming
about the existence of the internal review, suggesting that it
might be useful for phase two of the inquiry. At the end of
February it was sent to the inquiry, which informed Platt that it
was relevant to phase one.
Commenting on the delay over handing in the document Lord Laming
said: “I cannot emphasise strongly enough that I did not expect to
encounter any such difficulty with a department of government –
least of all from one of the departments that established this