Tax dispute contributed to delay of publication of SCR report into death of baby Rifat Miah

Publication of a Serious Case Review (SCR) into the death of baby Rifat Miah was significantly delayed by an internal tax dispute at Tower Hamlets Council between the report’s authors and the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board (LCSB).

The report into the death of ‘Child Elias’ – Rifat Miah – was finally published today three years after his death along with the report into the case of ‘Child Adam’ from 2015.

47 broken bones

On Monday 4 July 2016 13-week-old Rifat Miah was taken by ambulance to Great Ormond Street Hospital from his home in Poplar, Tower Hamlets, where he was found to be suffering from 47 broken bones and a severe brain injury. His father, Mohammed Miah, was later charged with his son’s murder.

At the conclusion of the murder trial on 28th March 2017 Mohammed Miah was found guilty of murdering his son and his mother found guilty of allowing the death of a child and causing him suffering.

Mohammed Miah was sentenced to serve a minimum of 18 years, Rebeka Nazmin was jailed for six years.

In 2018 LW was told by Cllr. Rabina Khan (Shadwell, Lib Dem) that she had found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain if the family of Rifat Miah was known to Tower Hamlets Social Services before his death despite repeated requests and would like our help.

Since then LW has been working with Cllr. Khan to uncover the truth of the circumstances of Rifat Miah’s death. In all honesty we have not got that far – until the last two days.

Family known to Social Services before Rifat’s birth

Today’s report makes it clear that, as Cllr. Rabina Khan suspected but Children’s Services has repeatedly refused to confirm, the family was known to the relevant authorities before his birth.

LW will be publishing a detailed analysis of the report in due course.

Lengthy dispute about tax

Yesterday we published this story – Children’s safeguarding under scrutiny as two Serious Case Reviews published – but at the time were unaware that ‘Child Elias’ was a pseudonym for Rifat Miah. Tower Hamlets Council has yet to officially confirm this.

Here is an extract from our news story of yesterday:

“A possible contributory factor [for the delays in publication] may be found on page 2 of the LCSB Operational Group minutes for Wednesday 22 November 2017. In Section 3 there is this note: “Chair informed the Ops Groups that disagreements within LBTH with regard to the status of SCR authors/reviewers resulted in a lengthy dispute about how they are categorised for tax purposes. This has been escalated to the Chief Executive.”

We have asked the Council for clarification as to if this disagreement about tax delayed the report’s publication, and if so for how long?

And this is from today’s SCR into the death of ‘Child Elias’ aka Rifat Miah

“Timeframe

1.2.6 The timeframe for this review has not met with statutory timescales. There was some delay between Elias’s death and the start of the SCR. The parallel process (please see section below) impacted initially; there was then a further substantial delay due to difficulties in the local authority procurement arrangement.”

LW believes that ‘further substantial delay due to difficulties in the local authority procurement arrangement’ is a reference to the internal tax dispute between the report’s authors and the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board (LCSB). We have again asked for comment by Tower Hamlets Council.

LW only picked up on what this innocuous phrase actually means because of previous work into the death of Rifat Miah and our repeated examination of the minutes of the LSCB Operational Group Meeting on the LSCB website.

Here are screen grabs from the LSCB meeting minutes and from today’s report:

Screen grab from LCSB Operational Group minutes for Wednesday 22 November 2017

You can read the original minutes for the Wednesday 22 November 2017 Operational Group Meeting on the LSCB site here.

Screen grab from SCR into death of ‘Child Elias’ – RIfat Miah

 

Councillors not told of publication of SCRs

“Overview & Scrutiny Committee have an important role in overseeing the work of the Council but we can only act on information provided to us and it is noticeable that we get information very late or not at all, for example no email from the Council notifying Councillors that there were two Serious Case reviews being released today even though they contain important lessons,” said Cllr. Andrew Wood, Leader of the Tower Hamlets Conservative Group.

“I am also deeply concerned by this paragraph in the report:

  • The timeframe for this review has not met with statutory timescales. There was some delay between Elias’s death and the start of the SCR. The parallel process (please see section below) impacted initially; there was then a further substantial delay due to difficulties in the local authority procurement arrangement.

Procurement issues should not be a reason for why we delay a report into lessons to be learnt about the tragic death of a child.”

More coverage of this issue on LW soon.