Justice must be seen to be done

NEWS that the Suffolk Child Protection Board will be outlining its findings of the case of Luigi Askew and Duncan Mills today may seem very welcome - but raises further major questions.

NEWS that the Suffolk Child Protection Board will be outlining its findings of the case of Luigi Askew and Duncan Mills today may seem very welcome - but raises further major questions.

The protection board is supposed to be an independent body looking at the way Suffolk County Council handled the family in the run-up to Luigi's tragic death at the hands of his father.

Yet the bureaucracy surrounding the board is all handled by the county council. It is county officers who have organised the publication of the findings of the report. It is county officers who have helped draft the report. And it is county officers who have ensured its findings are made public at the best time for them.

Frankly the way the report has been prepared and published leaves it open for people to question just how impartial it is.


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The Suffolk Child Protection Board should be seen to be totally separate from the county council - the county should have no role in producing its report apart from giving evidence to it.

If the board doesn't have the staff to produce its own reports, then it should look for an independent secretariat to help it out, possibly the borough council or the police. It should not fall back on the organisation it has investigated.

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Apart from anything else, that is unfair on the county council officers involved in the Luigi Askew case - because even if they are totally cleared there will be a suspicion that the way the report was handled amounts to a cover-up.

NATIONAL Express East Anglia is the new name for the rail company running services in this region - and it is a welcome change as one of the nation's biggest transport companies is prepared to put its name on the service it runs.

NX Chief executive Richard Bowker insisted that the change will be more than cosmetic - it will ensure the company's philosophy of providing good service is paramount on the region's railways.

Passengers will welcome his commitment - but will be keen to see that it is rapidly followed up with new investment on rail services, the protection of the InterCity service to London, and the maintenance of the local service to Felixstowe.

The service change has come as the rail infrastructure company Network Rail was fined a record £14 million for the disruption it caused over Christmas, partly at Liverpool Street.

While it is a substantial punishment, it should be remembered that Network Rail is a not for profit company, so the cost of the fine will not come from shareholders - it will either come from cuts in investment . . . or increased charges which are eventually passed on to passengers.

MEMBERS of the Ipswich Town Disabled FC are a real inspiration.

While most of the headlines in the sport are dominated by the highly-paid stars of the Premier League and Championship, they proved that there is much more to the beautiful game.

They have shown determination and overcome physical problems to actively enjoy their favourite sport, and their day in the spotlight is well-deserved.

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