Government ‘will not hesitate’ to act following review into failings around six-year-old’s murder

The Government will not hesitate to take action off the back of a review into failings around the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Number 10 has said.

The six-year-old was murdered by his stepmother Emma Tustin after she had cruelly abused, starved and poisoned him.

She fatally assaulted the boy in the hallway of her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, on June 16 2020, using severe force.

He died in hospital the following day.

Tustin was unanimously convicted on Thursday of Arthur’s murder after an eight-week trial at Coventry Crown Court, with the boy’s “pitiless” father, Thomas Hughes, 29, found guilty of his manslaughter after encouraging the killing.

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said the Prime Minister has been “deeply disturbed” by the case, which saw jurors hold a minute’s silence for Arthur after they returned their verdicts.

The spokesman said Mr Johnson’s thoughts are “with those who loved Arthur, and no child should ever suffer in the way that he did”.

He said it is “clear there are questions that need to be answered to get to the bottom of how this happened”.

The spokesman added: “You’ll be aware that a local child safeguarding practice review is under way to fully assess the circumstances surrounding Arthur’s tragic death at the hands of those who should have been looking after him, and that review will look at local safeguarding, including police, children’s social care, health and education professionals in the local area.

“We won’t hesitate to take any action off the back of that review.”

He added that the Government’s manifesto had “committed to a review of the children’s social care system to make sure children and young people get the support they need”.

Earlier, former children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield said very vulnerable children “have continued to slip from view”, and that she was “heartbroken” and “sickened” by the killing of Arthur.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “For anyone who looks at the serious case reviews, or hears about them, that come after a child’s death, you will see the same things coming up time and time again – missed opportunities, lack of co-ordination, lack of data-sharing – the things that professionals need to have at hand to be able to protect these children, which still aren’t in place.”

During the trial, jurors heard Solihull Council social workers visited the boy at Tustin’s home on April 17 2020.

The visit was prompted after Arthur’s paternal grandmother, secondary school teacher Joanne Hughes, rang the out-of-hours emergency social services team to report bruises she had seen on the boy’s back.

Despite social workers then examining Arthur’s back and finding a “faint” yellow bruise, they agreed with Tustin and Hughes that it was a “happy household”, with no cause for concern.

But photographs taken on April 16 of the deep purple-coloured bruises (pictured) were later sent to social services by Ms Hughes on April 24.

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership said it is now carrying out an independent review into the “terrible tragedy” of Arthur’s death, including the contact with social services.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Family Handout / West Midlands Police / PA.