I issued a statement on Friday at how shocked I was, as Leader of Solihull Council, at the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at the hands of his father and his step-mother. Just how could this have happened. What went wrong to let this happen? Like everyone, I am absolutely horrified that the two people in this world who should have been caring for Arthur killed him.
We have seen a strong and heartfelt reaction from across our borough and nationally. This reaction has focused, not just on Arthur’s father and step-mother, but also on how the various agencies, including this Council, have worked as a safeguarding partnership in Arthur’s tragically short life.
I welcome the recent announcement by the Secretary of State, Nadhim Zahawi, of a single, national review of Arthur's death to identify what must be learnt from this terrible case. There shouldn’t be a single council leader who won’t be grateful for a complete root and branch review of how society can ensure its children are kept safe.
I will be asking a number of questions as to how, with so many agencies and layers of safeguarding in the area, this could have happened; what is the system, or lack of a system that failed Arthur.
We intend to cooperate fully with the investigations and reviews announced, in an open and transparent manner, so that we can examine the specifics of Arthur’s tragically short life.
However, all of these investigations and reviews take time and I have asked for an independent verification of the Council’s involvement in Arthur’s life.
This is a very dark day in our borough. We owe it to Arthur and all the other cases where children have been killed and have occupied our headlines and thoughts, that we should now invest our time, our people and money to deliver a better system in their memory.
Councillor Ian Courts
Leader of Solihull Council