Climbie Lessons ‘Not Yet Learned’

The mother of Victoria Climbie, who was tortured and murdered in 2000, says she is “shocked” that lessons from the case have still not been learned.

The eight-year-old, who lived with her great-aunt in Haringey, north London, died after various agencies failed to act on signs she was being abused.

Her mother, Berthe, says the deaths of other children in similar circumstances since then show nothing has changed.

She is demanding a government review of why professionals are failing children.

Neglect charges

Speaking through a translator in a BBC interview, Mrs Climbie said she felt shocked and betrayed by the fact that the same sorts of mistakes which led to her daughter’s death were still being made by the people who were supposed to protect vulnerable children.

“I am still learning that other children are still dying,” she said. “We see the same sort of tragedies here as the things that happened to the little one.”

She said she had “forgiven” those whose mistakes had led to Victoria Climbie’s plight going unnoticed.

“When you lose a child it’s never easy. At first it makes your heart bleed and gradually you have to try to forget what has happened and pray for the person’s soul.”

She also thanked the government who launched the inquiry into Victoria’s death.

“At the end of six months there were many things that were learned from the green paper – a framework for children. How to stop this happening again.”

But she said she was shocked institutions had not followed the findings.

She criticised local authorities for failing to fully implement recommendations made by Lord Laming, who led the inquiry into Victoria’s case, despite changes in the law.

“They gave their word, but they did not live up to their responsibilities,” she said. This she found “heartbreaking” she said, because children were “still dying”.

Victoria died in February 2000, from abuse and neglect while living with her great-aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend Carl Manning. They were jailed for life in January 2001 for her murder.

The eight-year-old – whose body when she died was riddled with 128 injuries – had been seen by professionals 12 times, but each time they failed to pick up the abuse.

The case caused an outcry and led to a series of recommendations which were supposed to change the child protection system for good.

Mrs Climbie, who lives in Ivory Coast, is in the UK for the first time since the publication of Lord Laming’s report five years ago.

She is to attend a conference organised by the Victoria Climbie foundation.