LUIGI: Many questions, few answers

COMMENT Tiny Luigi Askew was killed by a brutal thug of a father - and failed by the system - in his one month in this world.And the public deserves to know why he was failed .

TINY Luigi Askew was killed by a brutal thug of a father - and failed by the system - in his one month in this world.

And the public deserves to know why he was failed . . . and what is being done to ensure no other helpless baby suffers the same fate.

Suffolk's Safeguarding Children Board have unveiled findings of their initial report into the tragedy - but the fact is there remain many questions still have to be answered.

The board did have criticisms of the way Duncan Mills was supervised in the month before he was able to murder his helpless son - a murder he was able to commit despite his history of domestic violence.

However the board insisted it may not have been able to prevent Luigi's tragic death if the failings had been ad-dressed earlier.

That is, frankly, a cop-out, and it raises serious concerns about the independence of the inquiry and the Suffolk Protection Board itself.

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If people are to have confidence in this body and its work as a watchdog, it must be much more independent of the body it is supposed to regulate.

Much is made of the fact that the Board has an independent chairman, former police chief Peter Worobec, but the fact is its secretarial support is provided by the county council.

Sitting next to Mr Worobec when the report's findings were published was Cliff James from the county council - how can any report be truly independent when bosses from the department at the eye of the storm are intimately involved in its preparation?

Mr James was able to tell the press conference Luigi's death was not preventable.

However many people will be wondering how that can be the case. If the social workers involved had known Mills' violent past, would they really have felt it was appropriate for him to have access to a new-born baby?

Why were details of his violent past not known to the two professionals who visited Luigi the day before his horrific death?

Why didn't they not know, from information provided electronically by Suffolk Police, of Duncan Mills' violent past?

With information flow so easy in 2008 - was there a blockage in the provision of details given by Suffolk Constabulary?

And if there was - as we believe - then how can anyone say the death couldn't have prevented?

If the information had been in the hands of the social worker and health visitor different judgements could have been made?

The public needs to know much more about the Suffolk Safeguarding Children Board. We need to know who its members are - and what steps will be made to make it genuinely independent of the council it is supposed to be regulating.

The current situation is totally unacceptable.

For Luigi Askew's sake - and the sake of other babies at risk - the board has to gain its total independence to en-able it to fully investigate problems that arise and to produce reports that don't have the whiff of a whitewash.

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