Boris backs ‘Arthur’s law’: Child killers like step-mother and father of tragic six-year-old would NEVER be released under plan for whole-life sentences for such ‘abhorrent crimes’
- Boris Johnson said he supported life imprisonment for child murderers
- Tens of thousands of ‘ghost children’ at risk of abuse are not attending school
- Will be an investigation into failings leading to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’ death
Child killers like the step-mother and father of tragic six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes will never been released from prison under proposals backed by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
‘Arthur’s Law’ would see anyone who carries out the murder of a child sent to prison indefinitely.
‘Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison, so we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes,’ Mr Johnson told The Sun.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of ‘ghost children’ are at risk of abuse after failing to return to school following the lockdowns, a senior MP warned.
Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons education committee, said 100,000 pupils were ‘lost in the system’ and therefore vulnerable to cruelty at home.
His warning came as Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi confirmed there will be an investigation into the failings leading to the death of Arthur.
The boy’s stepmother, Emma Tustin, was jailed last week for at least 29 years for his murder, while his father, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.
Boris Johnson wants child killers like the step-mother and father of tragic six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes to never be released from prison
Tens of thousands of ‘ghost children’ are at risk of abuse after failing to return to school following the lockdowns, senior MP Robert Halfon warned yesterday. Above: Murdered six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes
It emerged in court that Arthur was seen by social workers during the first national lockdown just two months before his death in Solihull, West Midlands, in June last year. But they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’ and closed the file.
Mr Halfon told MPs: ‘There are 100,000 what I call the ghost children, who are lost in the system and who haven’t returned to school for the most time, who are subject to potential safeguarding hazards, county lines gangs, online harm and, of course, awful domestic abuse.’
Mr Halfon asked Mr Zahawi to make a ‘real effort to work with the local authorities, to work with the schools and the regional commissioners to make sure that those 100,000 children who are mostly not in school are returned to school and are being watched by those authorities when they need to be watched’.
Mr Zahawi replied: ‘It is a concerning issue and it is a focus for my department.’
Mr Halfon told MPs: ‘There are 100,000 what I call the ghost children, who are lost in the system and who haven’t returned to school for the most time, who are subject to potential safeguarding hazards, county lines gangs, online harm and, of course, awful domestic abuse
Little Arthur can FINALLY be laid to rest: Killer father Thomas Hughes agrees to release six-year-old’s body for burial – 18 months after he was murdered, his lawyer says
By Emer Scully for MailOnline
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes can finally be laid to rest after his father Thomas agreed to release the six-year-old’s body for burial 18 months after he was murdered.
The 29-year-old, who was jailed for 21 years after he was found guilty of manslaughter, had previously been ‘passive’ but wanted to offer a ‘tiny scrap of peace’ to Arthur’s mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, according to his lawyer.
Earlier this week Arthur’s maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, told MailOnline her grandson’s body remains in the mortuary of Leicester Royal Infirmary – where the post-mortem was carried out 16-months ago – due to a legal dispute over who has the right to lay him to rest.
The breakthrough comes after a court heard how Arthur’s ‘wicked’ stepmother Emma Tustin and his ‘pitiless’ father Thomas subjected him to a horrific campaign of ‘evil’ abuse during the Covid lockdown last year.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, six, pictured with his ‘pitiless’ father Thomas Hughes. The 29-year-old, who was jailed for 21 years after he was found guilty of manslaughter, had previously been ‘passive’ but wanted to offer a ‘tiny scrap of peace’ to Arthur’s mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow
Emma Tustin, 32, (left) murdered Arthur by repeatedly slamming his head on a hard surface after she and Hughes starved the youngster and poisoned him with salt
Jurors heard that Tustin, 32, violently shook the child and repeatedly banged his head, likely against the hallway wall, at her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull on June 16, 2020.
Bernard Richmond QC, barrister for Hughes told Birmingham Live his client had wanted to leave the issue of Arthur’s remains to his and Ms Labinjo-Halcrow’s family to resolve – and only stepped in when they could not agree.
Arthur’s birth mother Ms Labinjo-Halcrow is in jail after fatally stabbing her lover in a ‘drink and drug-fuelled rage’ in 2019. Arthur’s father Hughes then met Tustin through the Plenty of Fish dating website and fell into her thrall. In March 2020, they moved into Tustin’s council house, where Arthur was tortured, poisoned with salt, and eventually beaten to death.
The six-year-old had suffered ‘unsurvivable’ brain damage and a total of 130 injuries were found all over his body. He had also been tortured, poisoned with salt and forced to stand on his own for up to 14 hours a day.
Arthur’s maternal grandmother, Madeleine Halcrow, told MailOnline that her grandson’s body remains in the mortuary of Leicester Royal Infirmary – where the post-mortem was carried out 16-months ago – due to a legal dispute over who has the right to lay him to rest
Mr Richmond added: ‘I have spoke to him and said this can’t go on. He has instructed me to say that Arthur’s remains, after a service with his family, must go to his mother’s family for her to have a funeral and she must have control of his ashes.
‘He does hope he can give Olivia a tiny scrap of peace.’
Meanwhile, Nadhim Zahawi today launched a review of how officials dealt with the case of tragic six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, as he said ‘no government can legislate for evil’ but ministers would ‘take action to stop it whenever we can’.
The Education Secretary said the review by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will scrutinise the world of Solihull Children’s Safeguarding Partnerships, while police and probation inspectors would carry out their own linked inspections.
Arthur’s birth mother Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow (left) is in jail after fatally stabbing her lover in a ‘drink and drug-fuelled rage’ in 2019
The action comes after it emerged in court Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’.
The boy’s stepmother Tustin was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court on Friday, with a minimum term of 29 years, after being found guilty of his murder, while his father Hughes was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.
Mr Zahawi confirmed a review and targeted inspection will take place as part of efforts to assess why things went ‘horrifyingly wrong and what more could be done to prevent abuse such as this happening again’.
He told MPs: ‘Since the horrendous deaths of Peter Connelly, Daniel Pelka and, sadly, others, the Government has established stronger multi-agency working – putting a shared and equal duty on police, councils and health in local areas to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, alongside a role for schools.
‘I am sure members across the House will recognise that improvements have been made from previous reviews, but the question now is whether that is enough.’
Jurors heard that Tustin violently shook the child and repeatedly banged his head, likely against the hallway wall, while in the sole care of Arthur at her home in Cranmore Road, Solihull on June 16, 2020. She then callously took a photo of the unconscious youngster on her mobile phone – while he lay dying – and sent the image to Hughes
Mr Zahawi, on the targeted area inspection jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Probation, said: ‘This will mean we can truly look at where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in the Solihull area, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.’
The minister said the review would look at how social workers could ‘work directly with families’ rather than staying ‘behind a desk’.
‘I’ll take his head off’: Vile messages shared between pair
Mother’s Day 2020:
Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin messaged her mother, referring to the little boy as a ‘nagging little s***’
Arthur’s father Thomas Hughes: ‘Kid is a selfish little c***. I’ll dash my food off his head.
‘I’ll take his c****** head right off his shoulders.’
Hughes: ‘Just take his jaw off’
Hughes: ‘Kid’s getting ended when I get back.’
Tustin: ‘He’s screaming at me again, little f*****.’
Hughes: ‘Let him read this: I’m not in the mood for your games tonight. Stay awake crying and being rude to everyone when I get back you can stand up and I’ll go to town on you. Fed up of your silly games and attitude. Best be asleep when I get back or watch what happens.’
Tustin to Hughes: ‘Please hurry up I’ve had enough of the cheek, little t***’
In a text conversation about separating:
Tustin says: ‘Tell him he’s won… I want you but not him. I’m not being treated like that by him.’
Hughes: ‘It can’t be one and not the other. Unfortunately it’s got to be both or none.’
End of May:
Tustin describes Arthur as: ‘malicious, cruel and just plain awful’.
Tustin refers to Arthur as a ‘cheeky little t***’ and ‘d*******’ before saying: ‘I’m going to chin this little c***.’
Hughes: ‘Kid’s getting ended when I get back’ to which Tustin replies with an audio recording of Arthur moaning.
Tustin: ‘It’s still going. It’s getting boring.’
Hughes to Tustin: ‘I’ll sort him out when I’m home.’
June 15, day before the fatal assault:
Hughes to Tustin: ‘Just gag him or something.
‘Tie some rope round his mouth with a sock in it or something.’
Tustin: ‘I’m going to be knocking him out if he continues.’
Tustin: ‘Kida (sic) bit me for the last time.’
He added: ‘Sunlight is the best possible disinfectant, because if we are to improve services we must share data and evidence.
‘As the court heard, Arthur’s tragic death is the result of the cruelty of his father and his father’s partner.
‘No government in the world can legislate for evil, but we will take action wherever we can to stop it happening wherever we can.
‘We must do more. Anyone who suspects child abuse can report their concerns to the local authority or by contacting the NSPCC.
‘If you are worried or you are seeing something that troubles you – report it.’
Speaking on Friday during a campaign visit in Shropshire, Boris Johnson vowed to leave ‘absolutely no stone unturned’ to establish what went wrong.
He said it was essential to learn lessons and to work out what else could have been done to protect the child.
Responding to Mr Zahawi, Labour said the government had ‘tolerated failure’ in children’s services across the country and this must end.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson told the Commons: ‘Failure should never be an acceptable outcome for any public service. That is especially true when it comes to protecting children.
‘For too long this Government has tolerated failing children’s services and a failure to protect children.
‘Vulnerable children are being failed and that cannot go on. The Secretary of State must now set out how he plans to tackle that culture.
‘That is the challenge he faces and that is the standard by which he will be judged.’
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi replied: ‘She spoke about a long way to go and I would recognise that there are challenges, but it is also worth praising the team both in the department but also in local government up and down the country.’
He made references to the improved Ofsted inspections of local authorities in the last year, rising from 37 percent of local authorities in England rated good, up to 50 percent rated good.
On Sunday afternoon a large crowd gathered outside Tustin’s former address where Arthur was killed, to let off balloons and lay flowers in tribute to the youngster.
Those gathered clapped as the balloons soared into the sky, including a string of letters that read ‘Arthur’, while others people placed posters and drawings on the boarded-up property, in a touching tribute to the six-year-old.
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 spokesperson 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.’
The Solihull home where Arthur was abused by Tustin and Hughes in 2020
Pictured: Six-year-old Arthur with father Hughes and Tustin
An NSPCC spokesperson said: ‘We agree no stone should be left unturned in establishing exactly what took place before Arthur died and whether more could have been done to protect and ultimately save him.
‘This must be a watershed moment in which we ask ourselves difficult questions about what we can all do, nationally, locally and in our own communities, to keep children safe.
‘We welcome the announcement of a national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case and the associated inspection of partnership working arrangements. The Government must act on the findings.
‘Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe. We need political leadership at a national level – including addressing the significant shortfall facing children’s services. At a local level, we need effective multi-agency early intervention to concerns of abuse.’
Susanna Reid accuses social workers’ leader of trying to shift the blame for Arthur’s death by suggesting his grandmother should have done more to report his ‘unusual’ bruising – even though she DID tell social workers
Susanna Reid admitted to being ‘stunned’ today after accusing a child protection expert of blaming Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’s grandmother for not telling medics as well as social services after noticing ‘unusual’ bruising on his back.
Wendy Thorogood, chair of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, said referring the injuries to medics could lead to a ‘quicker’ response than only telling social workers.
Arthur’s grandmother, Joanne Hughes, took photos of bruises on his shoulder and made a referral to Solihull Council. Social workers visited the next day but reported ‘no concerns’ after concluding the bruises were caused by ‘play’.
Three months later, the six-year-old was killed by his stepmother, Emma Tustin, 32, and father, Thomas Hughes, 29, subjected him to ‘unimaginable’ torture and abuse.
Arthur’s grandmother, Joanne Hughes, took photos of bruises on Arthur’s shoulder (pictured) and made a referral to Solihull Council
Wendy Thorogood, chair of the Association of Child Protection Professionals, said referring the injuries to medics could lead to a ‘quicker’ response than only telling social workers, leaving Susanna Reid ‘stunned’
Interviewing Ms Thorogood, Good Morning Britain host Susanna Reid said she was shocked by the suggestion that Ms Hughes could have done more.
She said: ‘I’m sorry, I’m just stunned – because I would have thought once you phoned social services, they’re the ones who trigger the process, they’re the ones with the responsibility, they’re the ones with the legal powers.
And if you’re told as the grandmother [Ms Hughes], ”actually it’s down to you”…’
Inmates ‘spike Arthur’s stepmother’s meals with SALT’
Katie Feehan for MailOnline
Child killer Emma Tustin who tortured her stepson to death has had her meals laced with salt by her cellmates in revenge for the abuse she carried out on the six-year-old before she battered him to death, it has been claimed.
The 32-year-old was jailed for life with a minimum of 29 years on Friday after she was convicted of murdering six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes at her home in Solihull, West Midlands.
His father, Thomas Hughes, was also jailed for 21 years after being convicted of manslaughter for encouraging the killing, including by sending a text message to Tustin hours before the fatal assault telling her ‘just end him’.
As it was revealed the Government will launch a major review into his death, Tustin’s former cellmate has now claimed that inmates housed with Tustin at Eastwood Park Prison laced her meals with salt as revenge for the horrific abuse she inflicted on Arthur.
Meanwhile, the devastated grandfather of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has said ‘no punishment could be enough’ for the youngster’s evil killers as he reconsiders his opposition to the death penalty.
Peter Halcrow, 61, of Dunkeld, Perthshire, said Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have ‘forfeited their right to live’ and should ‘never see the light of day again’ following his beloved grandsons horrific death.
Through a harrowing nine-week trial at Coventry Crown Court, it was revealed Tustin forced Arthur to consume ‘an absolute minimum’ of 34 grams of salt hours before she battered him to death.
Ms Thorogood responded: ‘I didn’t say it’s down to the grandmother, I’m saying at that moment in time the child could have been medically assessed. My words are being sort of slightly twisted, I’m just saying that would have prevented a delay.’
Ms Reid and co-host Martin Lewis invited Ms Thorogood to discuss Arthur’s cases and how social services could have responded differently.
Mr Lewis began by asking her: ‘There are a lot of lessons to be learnt here Wendy, but I suppose if I start with the bigger question: Can we ever really stop this from happening again, is that at all possible?’
Ms Thorogood replied: ‘I think we have to believe that we can make a difference, but we do have to remember that up to 70 children – perhaps more – die each year, where we’re learning lessons and this is something that has gone on for many years and it is something that we are continually addressing.’
Ms Reid then joined in and said: ‘I want to ask you, because there were opportunities to save Arthur and it would not be true to say that his crimes went unheeded because his grandparents raised concerns, his uncle raised concerns and social services did visit. What is the procedure if I’m a grandparent and I’m concerned and I call social services?’
‘As professionals they should be trained to be able to identify where there’s manipulation,’ Ms Thorogood replied.
‘Just one thing, I want to pick up on this bruising because clearly it was shared with social service and the photo was shared with police, and I’m not criticising her actions at all, but I would have liked if she actually had that child in front of her to actually seek medical intervention as well.
‘Because at that moment in time you can take the photo, you can use that for evidence, but health workers are part of the system as well and that could have triggered a multi-system assessment quicker.’
Ms Reid asked: ‘When you say ‘she’ are you talking about the social worker?’ to which Ms Thorogood said: ‘The grandmother. If she’s taken the photo… my plea for anyone out there who’s concerned about a child where there’s visible bruises is seek medical attention.’
A baffled Ms Reid said: ‘I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but she went to social services – are you saying that social services couldn’t intervene and therefore it was down to the grandmother to seek further help?’
Ms Thorogood answered: ‘It would trigger an intervention, it triggered the actual point of a social worker going out but it’s the matter of delay and the severity of when that was seen and I wouldn’t disparage anyone for doing a referral.’
‘I don’t understand why you’re suggesting the grandmother should have done more,’ Ms Reid said.
Ms Thorogood insisted she was not blaming Arthur’s grandmother but giving advice to people in similar situations in the future
Wendy quickly responded: ‘I want to really stress that I am not saying the grandmother could have done any more, but I’m just saying for future, if anyone sees any unusual bruising, seek medical intervention as well as sharing that with social care as that would trigger the process.’
‘I’m sorry, I’m just stunned,’ Ms Reid, a mother of three, said. ‘Because I would have thought once you phoned social services, they’re the ones who trigger the process, they’re the ones with the responsibility, they’re the ones with the legal powers.
‘And if you’re told as the grandmother, ‘actually it’s down to you’…’
‘I didn’t say it’s down to the grandmother, I’m saying at that moment in time the child could have been medically,’ Ms Thorogood responded. ‘My words are being sort of slightly twisted, I’m just saying that would have prevented a delay.’
‘They have forfeited their right to live’: Arthur Labinjo-Hughes’s grandfather says ‘no punishment could be enough’ for his killers who have made him reconsider his opposition to the death penalty
Peter Halcrow, 61, one of Arthur’s grandfathers
Kaya Terry for MailOnline
The devastated grandfather of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes has said ‘no punishment could be enough’ for the youngster’s evil killers as he reconsiders his opposition to the death penalty.
Peter Halcrow, 61, of Dunkeld, Perthshire, said Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have ‘forfeited their right to live’ and should ‘never see the light of day again’ following his beloved grandsons horrific death.
Tustin, 32, was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court on Friday, with a minimum term of 29 years, after being found guilty of his murder, while his father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.
He said: ‘They must never see the light of day again. No punishment could ever be enough for this pair.’
‘I have never favoured the death penalty because I know mistakes can be made by courts, but in my view they have forfeited their right to live’, he told The Sun.
Boris Johnson is expected to announce a wide-ranging inquiry into Arthur’s murder in an attempt to avert another such tragedy
‘It will burden taxpayers but, as we don’t have capital punishment, they should certainly never leave prison as long as they live for such cruelty and inhumanity.’
The youngster’s grandfather, who runs a cafe, said he was ‘shocked and mystified’ that Tustin and Thomas were able to get away with their evil abuse without an urgent safeguarding concern being raised by social workers.
Peter is the father of Arthur’s biological mother, Olivia Labinjo-Halcrow, 29, who killed her partner Gary Cunningham by stabbing him 12 times with a kitchen knife in a drunken rage in February 2019.
She was found guilty of manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court in July 2021 and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
This news comes as the government announced a major review into the circumstances which led to the murder of six-year-old Arthur.
It aims to determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with Arthur in the months before he was murdered by stepmother Emma Tustin at their home in Solihull.
The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will lead the review and will provide additional support to Solihull Children’s Safeguarding Partnership to ‘upgrade’ the already existing local review which was launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020.
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