PM orders national inquiry into Arthur's appalling murder

PM orders national inquiry into Arthur’s appalling murder: Probe will examine role of police, schools and social services after missed chances to stop tragic six-year-old’s death at hands of monster step-mother and father during lockdown

  • The probe will involve police, schools, social services and probation watchdogs to learn lessons from Arthur
  • It is likely to ponder guidelines to help protect at-risk youngsters in the event of any future national lockdown
  • Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court, with a minimum of 29 years
  • She was found guilty of his murder, while father Thomas Hughes, 29, got 21 years for his son’s manslaughter

Boris Johnson is expected to announce a wide-ranging inquiry into the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in an attempt to avert another such tragedy.

The investigation will involve police, schools, social services and probation watchdogs and is intended to learn lessons from what happened.

It is likely to consider whether guidelines should be put in place to help protect at-risk youngsters in the event of future national lockdowns.

Arthur’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court on Friday, with a minimum of 29 years, after being found guilty of his murder, while his father Thomas Hughes, 29, got 21 years for manslaughter.

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged the boy had been seen by social workers two months before his death, but they found there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’.

It comes after Tustin’s former cellmate revealed she never mentioned the boy while awaiting trial during the six weeks they shared a cell.

Meanwhile yesterday football fans across the country paid poignant tribute to Arthur  with a rousing minute of applause in the sixth-minute for the young Birmingham City supporter.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce a wide-ranging inquiry into the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (pictured) in an attempt to avert another such tragedy

Mr Johnson (pictured on Friday) is looking to save more children from suffering the vicious abuse Arthur received from his sick stepmother and father


Emma Tustin, 32, (left) killed Arthur Labinjo-Hughes by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and 29-year-old Thomas Hughes starved the youngster and poisoned him with salt

The little boy who never stood a chance: How authorities missed FOUR opportunities to save Arthur, ignored pleas from his family and even threatened them with ARREST under Covid rules

Arthur died on June 16, 2020 after suffering an ‘unsurvivable head injury’. These are the four key chances the authorities missed to avert the tragedy: 

  • ONE – Arthur’s grandmother, Joanne Hughes, called social services on April 16 to say she had seen the youngster covered in bruises. However, social workers failed to spot them during a visit to his home.
  • TWO – On April 20, Joanne also told Arthur’s school what she had seen. A member of staff called social services but was told the bruises had been caused by ‘play’.
  • THREE – Arthur’s uncle, Daniel Hughes, reports his concerns to police but is threatened with arrest if he tries to go back to the youngster’s home.
  • FOUR – John Dutton, Emma Tustin’s stepfather, makes an anonymous call to social services weeks before Arthur’s death.

Mr Johnson is looking to save more children from suffering the vicious abuse Arthur received from his sick stepmother and father, the Sunday Times reported.

Speaking on Friday during a campaign visit in Shropshire, the Prime Minister vowed to leave ‘absolutely no stone unturned’ to establish what went wrong in the case.

He said it was essential to learn lessons and to work out what else could have been done to protect the child. 

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi is due to make a Commons statement on the case on Monday.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said ministers are determined to see what lessons can be learned from the murder of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes.

Asked if there would be an inquiry, Mr Raab told Sky News this morning: ‘The Prime Minister made clear that we want to see how social services liaise with the criminal justice agencies, and what lessons we can learn.’

‘It is right that we look at the criminal justice end and in between that I think the job of social workers – particularly those looking at children at particular risk – we need to learn the lessons.’

He added: ‘I do think we have got to make sure a more precautionary approach which looks at the risk to those particularly vulnerable young children and see what more we can do to read those early signs earlier and better.’

On Saturday, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) confirmed Tustin and Hughes’ sentences are to be reviewed. The AGO has 28 days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme, and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal then makes a ruling on cases which have been referred.

A spokesman for the AGO said: ‘The Attorney General’s thoughts are with those who loved Arthur. I can confirm that the sentences given to Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have been referred to the Attorney General for review to determine whether they were too low.’

Speaking about sharing a cell with Tustin, Elaine told the Mirror she told inmates she was being held in Eastwood Park prison in Gloucestershire because her ex-partner Hughes had ‘neglected’ his son.

Elaine, who was recalled to prison for battery and criminal damage, told the publication: ‘Emma hadn’t said anything about Arthur dying. She never mentioned him.’

She claimed she only found out about Tustin’s charges after finding her case paperwork, with Elaine saying she grew ‘angry’ after reading about Arthur’s 130 bruises, resulting in the pair having a row.

She claimed she asked Tustin how she didn’t notice Arthur’s bruising while giving him a bath, to which she alleged Tustin responded that she ‘gave him a towel’.

Elaine, who also gave evidence at Tustin’s trial, added: ‘I pressed the bell and said if the prison officers didn’t get her out then I’d be staying there a long time.’

Tustin was moved to a different cell, but inmates began lacing her meals with salt after learning about how she had poisoned Arthur, Elaine claimed.


Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (left) was subjected to a campaign of horrendous abuse that saw him tortured, starved and beaten in one of the most grim instances of child abuse in history. Attorney General Suella Braverman QC (pictured right) will review the sentences handed to Emma Tustin, 32, and Thomas Hughes, 29, who were both jailed for more than 20 years each for their roles in the death of little Arthur at Coventry Crown Court

Sick Tustin fetched her mobile phone immediately after she beat Arthur to take a photograph of the youngster (pictured, with his father Hughes) as he lay dying in the hallway of her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull, West Midlands, in June last year

Pictured: Six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with father Thomas Hughes and Thomas’ partner Emma Tustin. Emma Tustin has been convicted of murder and Thomas Hughes is guilty of manslaughter after a harrowing trial at Coventry Crown Court

Yesterday football fans across the country paid poignant tribute to Arthur in powerful scenes replicated at sold-out stadiums nationwide.

Thousands of supporters marked Arthur’s short life with a rousing minute of applause in the sixth-minute for the young Birmingham City FC supporter.

Applause rang out from the capacity crowd at West Ham’s London Stadium as fans of the Premier League side and league leaders Chelsea shared a touching tribute at the six-minute mark of their match.

Players wore ‘Arthur We Love You’ t-shirts in pre-match warmups ahead of Birmingham City FC’s Championship clash against Millwall on Saturday.

Meanwhile Coventry City fans also remembered the youngster with applause in the sixth minute of their match against West Brom.

Young Birmingham City FC fan Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was remembered at football stadiums across the country on Saturday. Arthur’s picture was displayed at Coventry City’s match against West Brom as fans applauded in memory of the tragic child’s

Applause rang out from the capacity crowd at West Ham’s London Stadium as fans of the Premier League side and league leaders Chelsea shared a touching tribute in the six-minute of their match

A tearful Birmingham City FC fan claps as the club and its supporters marked the life of youngster Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

The club’s players wore ‘Arthur we love you’ t-shirts and held a banner in pre-match warmups ahead of Birmingham City FC’s game against Millwall on Saturday

New figures showed nearly 50,000 vulnerable children may have ‘dropped off the radar’ of social services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of new cases referred to children’s services departments fell by 45,220 – or 7 per cent – from 2019-20 to 2020-21.

The total dropped to 597,760 for the year to March 2021, the lowest figure since records began in 2013. By contrast, the total for 2018-19, before the pandemic, was 650,930.

The Department for Education said the sharp reduction was driven by a fall in referrals from schools, which were closed for most pupils during lockdown.

Tim Loughton, a former children’s minister, said the pandemic had put vulnerable children such as Arthur at greater risk.

‘There was an increase in child abuse because of course they were off the radar,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.

A former children’s commissioner also suggested the lockdown helped Tustin and Hughes carry out their reign of terror largely unchecked.

Tributes have been left outside the Solihull home of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes following the sentencing of his parents

Louise Rees (pictured), 60, tendered her resignation to Solihull Council chiefs shortly after the six-year-old’s death sent shockwaves around the children’s services department, sources said

Ex-children’s minister: ‘We have a duty to put this right’ after Arthur’s murder 

The murder of a six-year-old boy by his stepmother should prompt change around social care, a former children’s minister has suggested.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes was left with an unsurvivable brain injury while in the sole care of 32-year-old Emma Tustin, who was on Friday jailed for life after being convicted of murder by assaulting the defenceless child in Solihull on June 16, 2020.

Ex-children’s minister Tim Loughton said ‘we’ all have a ‘duty’ to make sure other vulnerable children are not let down by social care in the same way as Arthur, whose body was found to be covered in 130 bruises following his death.

‘Funding for children’s social care has lagged behind and social workers are overstretched and undervalued, when in truth they should be revered as our fourth emergency service,’ the Tory MP wrote in The Sun.

‘Early interventions to stop the causes of safeguarding problems have been diluted to late interventions to firefight symptoms.

‘This is a false economy where in this case a child paid with his life. We all have an interest in putting this right urgently and a duty to make sure it is.’

Solihull’s Local Child Safeguarding Partnership launched an independent review after it emerged in court that the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said ministers will leave ‘absolutely no stone unturned’ to establish what went wrong in the ‘appalling’ case.

Speaking during a by-election campaign visit in north Shropshire, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is early days, but I can tell you this, we will leave absolutely no stone unturned to find out exactly what went wrong in that appalling case.’

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he would be making a statement on the case to Parliament on Monday.

Tustin’s life sentence delivered on Friday carries a minimum term of 29 years, while Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

 

Tustin killed Arthur by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and Hughes starved the youngster and force-fed him food laden with salt.

After killing him, she immediately fetched her mobile phone to take a photograph of him as he lay dying in the hallway to send to her boyfriend. She called 999 and told the operator Arthur had ‘banged his head’.

After police arrived at her Solihull home, the self-pitying stepmother cried and tried to convince them the stick-thin boy had attacked her – while several miles away he lay dying in hospital.

He passed away the next day when his life support was turned off, with medics deciding there was nothing they could do due to the catastrophic nature of his injuries.

After concerned relatives told the council about bruises on the youngster’s back, social worker Jayne Kavanagh and support worker Angela Scarlett-Coppage visited Tustin’s home but reported ‘no concerns’.

Tustin and Hughes had ‘coached’ Arthur and one of Tustin’s other children to pretend his injuries were the result of a play-fight.

A day before Arthur died of ‘unsurvivable’ head injuries inflicted by Tustin, he had been rendered ‘too weak’ even to hold a glass of water to his mouth.

The 130 areas of bruising found on the little boy’s body after his death equated to ‘nearly a bruise for every day of lockdown’.

Jailing Tustin and Hughes, Mr Justice Mark Wall QC said the couple’s campaign of cruel abuse against the defenceless youngster had been ‘without doubt one of the most distressing and disturbing cases I have had to deal with’.

He said of little Arthur: ‘He was a healthy, happy young boy. He enjoyed his food, liked school, loved playing cricket and football and adored spending his time with his extended family.

‘He had been poisoned with so much salt that the levels of sodium in his blood could not be accurately and reliably measured. I am sure that you had also been poisoning him with smaller doses of salt for some time.

‘It is the only explanation for Arthur being heard regularly to cry out for food while rejecting the food that you prepared for him and offered him. It explains why you had been restricting his access to free water for some time.

‘He had been completely isolated from his extended family. He was forced to live a solitary and lonely life within your home, including being made to stand to attention alone in the hallway of the house for most of the day.

‘He was made to sleep downstairs on the hard floor without a mattress. In the last three months of Arthur’s life he was subjected to the most unimaginable suffering at the hands of both of you.

‘You both told lies to conceal what was happening in that house.’

Addressing Hughes, he said: ‘You, I am sure, researched pressure pointing Arthur and then did it. Not in the playful way you suggested but as an attempt to cause maximum pain with minimum injury.’

Boy who never stood a chance: From a killer mother to father and stepmother who mocked and abused him till his dying day – timeline of tragic case 

2019

February: Arthur’s biological mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, kills her partner Gary Cunningham by  stabbing him 12 times with a kitchen knife. 

Arthur is moved into the care of his father, Thomas Hughes, 29. Later he meets Emma Tustin, 32, online. 

Hughes and Arthur moved into an annexe at the back of his parent’s garden. 

His grandmother said Arthur was ‘nervous’ at first but became a ‘happy, well-rounded child’. 

August: Hughes met Tustin on dating website Plenty of Fish. They went on their first date in a pub.   

Tustin failed to reveal that in 2013 she had tried to commit suicide. 

She also failed to reveal how her first two children went to live with their fathers. 

After three dates Hughes introduced Tustin to Arthur.

September: Hughes’ brother Blake said his nephew’s behaviour ‘change quite a lot’. 

He said his brother became more anxious at being told off while his brother ‘became a lot stricter.’

Hughes also recalled an incident where he argued with Tustin because he bought Arthur a Subway sandwich, which she said was ‘an unnecessary treat.’

October: Aileen Carabine, a special educational coordinator at Arthur’s school, said Arthur ‘deteriorated’ that month. 

She said he became more reserved, anxious and ‘not quite as smiley’. 

November: Thomas and his mother Joanne met with Arthur’s school to discuss their growing concerns about his behaviour. 

Teachers said Arthur was having nightmares and spoke of his father ‘killing him.’

Tustin became pregnant with Hughes, but had a miscarriage.

December: Arthur became upset during a Christmas nativity when the baby was taken out of its crib. 

Hughes proposed to Tustin in the annexe. 

2020 

January: Arthur’s school begin to raise concerns about him, including his ‘clinginess’ and ‘obsession’ with soft toys’. 

February: Tustin took Arthur with her to have her hair done. Arthur was made to sit at a table with his hands on his knees and not move. 

March: Hughes and Arthur move into Tustin’s home in Solihull. 

April 16:  Arthur’s paternal grandmother, Joanne Hughes, made a call to Solihull council’s emergency team to report bruises on his shoulders.

April 17: Social worker Jayne Kavanagh and support worker Angela Scarlett-Coppage visit Tustin’s home but report ‘no concerns’. 

April 20: A desperate Joanne Hughes tells Arthur’s school about the referral to social services she had made four days earlier. Michelle Hull, safeguarding lead at Dickens Heath Community Primary School, contacts social services but is told they have ‘no concerns’. 

April (specific date unclear): Thomas Hughes fobs off Arthur’s school in online messages, insisting he is ‘doing grand’. 

April (specific date unclear): Arthur’s uncle, Daniel Hughes, tries to alert police to Arthur’s bruises. 

May/June (specific date unclear): When John Dutton, Tustin’s stepfather, says he made an anonymous call to social services.

June 8: Arthur’s school re-opened but Hughes did not send him back. He claimed his son had a bad night’s sleep and would send him back the next day. 

Arthur would never return to school.  

June 12-15: Arthur spent more than 35 hours in isolation in the hallway.

On Friday Arthur was made to stand in hall for 14 hours, 19 minutes, as Tustin ate McDonald’s with her son in the living room.

On Saturday Arthur was made to stand in the hall for 11 hours and 49 minutes. 

In the video, Hughes can be seen slapping him around the head while Tustin grabbed him by the scruff of the neck as she marches him from the kitchen to the hallway.

The couple spent time in their garden hot tub and eating ice creams.

On Sunday Arthur was in the hallway for 10 hours and 54 minutes and made to wear a fleece onesie.

June 15: Tustin is seen waking Arthur up at 7.06am by ripping his bedding from underneath him.  

Horrific final video shows an emaciated Arthur struggling to pick up a duvet from the living room floor where he had been forced to sleep.  

June 16: Arthur suffered an ‘unsurvivable injury’ caused by Tustin repeatedly banging his head on a hard surface. 

June 17: Arthur’s life support was switched off and he died in hospital.  

December 1, 2021:  Labinjo-Halcrow is jailed for 11 years for killing Mr Cunningham. 

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