Judge points to children’s services flaws in Khyra Ishaq case


A High Court judge has concluded that Khyra Ishaq, the seven-year-old girl who starved to death at home in May 2008, would still be alive if there had been an adequate initial assessment by social services, it has been reported.

The revelation came at the end of the re-trial of Ishaq’s mother Angela Gordon, 35, and her partner Junaid Abuhamza, 31, in the Birmingham Crown Court this week when prosecutors accepted manslaughter pleas from both on the basis of psychiatric reports presented late in the original murder trial.

Mrs Justice King made the remarks in care proceedings last year involving Khyra’s siblings. She said Khyra’s death “was caused by and is the responsibility of her mother” and her partner, but added: “On the evidence before the court I can only conclude that in all probability, had there been an adequate initial assessment and proper adherence by the educational welfare services to its guidance, Khyra would not have died,” it has been reported in newspapers today.

Birmingham Local Children’s Safeguarding Board has yet to complete a serious case review into the case of Ishaq, who died of severe malnutrition after her mother starved her and her five siblings as a punishment. The seven-year-old had been taken out of school at the beginning of 2008 and she died in May.

Social workers told the court they had seen Ishaq in February, 2008, but were not allowed into the house. However, they reported they had no concerns about her health.

While Tony Howell, strategic director of children, young people and families, expressed regret that the council had been “unable to save” Khyra, he said the community had a role to play as well.

“Another major concern that has come out of the trial is that many people in the local community were aware, or had suspicions, that all was not right in the home where Khyra died, yet no-one felt able to alert any of the authorities,” he said. “We are currently addressing how through closer relationships with communities, we can get a clear and strong message about how those communities and public agencies can work better together on this important issue.”

Howell said the community had to be the “eyes and ears” for social services.

Local MP Khalid Mahmood has called for a public inquiry into social services handling of the case.

Prosecutors in the case accepted the plea of diminished responsibility after psychiatric reports showed Gordon was suffering depression and schizophrenia. The pair will be sentenced next week.

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