Khyra Ishaq: Labour MP calls for Birmingham officials to go

A Birmingham MP has called for the resignation of senior officials in the city council’s children’s services over the Khyra Ishaq case.

Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Hall Green, said Birmingham Council chief executive Stephen Hughes, its strategic director of children’s services Tony Howell or the cabinet member for children, young people and families Les Lawrence should resign.

“One of them should accept responsibility,” said McCabe. “But instead they’ve hired a PR consultant to protect them at enormous cost.

“Following the case, Howell put out the crassest press release about how it was incomprehensible that a little girl could starve to death without anyone noticing. Well, the person who didn’t notice was him.

“I think it incomprehensible that three people who have this responsibility can stay in their ivory towers while a little girl starves to death.”

McCabe said the Conservative-led council’s conduct defied Lord Laming’s view that junior members of staff should no longer take responsibility for inadequate services.

“These three are hiding behind the serious case review, hoping they can spread the blame and it’s quite clear that that’s not what Laming intended,” McCabe said.

However, Lawrence said he questioned McCabe’s integrity in raising his points now.

“It saddens me that a politician is playing party politics with what was a tragic death of a child more than 22 months ago,” he said.

“Steve McCabe has never at any point come anywhere near the authority to assess what progress has been made during that time. I would question his integrity and his purpose in raising the issue in the run-up to a general and local election.”

Lawrence said he believed this was one more element in “an orchestrated campaign by the Labour Party”.

He added that not one child in Birmingham had died in 2009 due to abuse or neglect.

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