Victoria Climbie’s parents to sue authorities

The parents of Victoria Climbie are to take legal action against
the authorities which failed to protect their daughter,
writes Sally Gillen.

Francis and Berthe Climbie are planning to sue two hospital
trusts, Ealing, Brent and Haringey councils and the Metropolitan

Their solicitor Raju Bhatt said he had notified the authorities
of the Climbies’ intention to bring the case to the high

The decision, which coincides with the third anniversary of
Victoria’s death, follows the publication of Lord
Laming’s report in January, in which he criticised as
“lamentable” the failings by the authorities in their handling of
the case.

In a statement, Bhatt says the Climbies’ have decided that
“there can be no dispute about the reckless indifference which
coloured the failure of all the relevant authorities” involved with

It adds that the decision has been taken to “accept legal as
well as moral responsibility for the way in which they failed

Meanwhile, councillors at Brent council who were responsible for
making budget cuts in children’s services at the time it was
dealing with Victoria Climbie’s case, held on to their
positions after a vote to oust them.

Ann John, leader of the council, and Mary Cribbin, who is lead
member for health and social care, both gave evidence to the Laming
inquiry, and were criticised for the part they played in reducing
spending on services between 1997 and 1999.

But a motion to remove them from their posts, brought by the
Conservatives, failed when it were defeated by Labour and Liberal

In 1998-1999 just £14.5 million of the standard spending
assessment of £28 million was spent on children’s
services, and was instead diverted to other services.

By mid-1999, at the time when the council came into contact with
Victoria Climbie, the department was, said Lord Laming, in a
“parlous state”.

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