Government 'not satisfied' with sentences for 'appalling' Arthur Labinjo-Hughes murder

5 December 2021, 10:12 | Updated: 6 December 2021, 05:48

Arthur, 6, died in June 2020 after months of "evil abuse" by his stepmother and father
Arthur, 6, died in June 2020 after months of "evil abuse" by his stepmother and father. Picture: West Midlands Police

By Elizabeth Haigh

Dominic Raab has told LBC he is "not satisfied" with the sentences given to the killers of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, as a national investigation into his tragic murder was confirmed by the government.

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Arthur, from Solihull in the West Midlands, died in June 2020 following months of "evil abuse" in which he was poisoned, starved and beaten by stepmother Emma Tustin and father Thomas Hughes.

He died of an unsurvivable brain injury, and had 130 injuries at the time of his death.

This week, Tustin was sentenced to a minimum 29 years in prison for Arthur's murder, and Hughes was jailed for 21 years for manslaughter.

The sentences have since been referred to the Attorney General's Office for review over concerns they are "too lenient".

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told LBC: "I fully support the Attorney and ask the courts to look at this again.

"We wouldn’t be asking the court to look at this again if we felt satisfied."

He added: "This is an appalling case and my heart goes out to that little boy, Arthur."

But he said the government is "toughening up the sentences for child cruelty".

The investigation will look into the ways social services and local authorities liaise with the criminal justice system in an attempt to learn lessons from the tragedy.

Read more: Met considering complaints from Labour MPs over PM's Christmas party accusations

The national review will be led by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

This will replace and build upon the work of the original Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review, which was paused while the court case was ongoing.

The decision comes after it emerged during court proceedings that Arthur was visited by social workers just two months prior to his death, concluding there were "no safeguarding concerns."

A targeted area inspection will be also commissioned and led jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Probation.

This will consider what improvements are needed by all agencies who protect vulnerable children in Solihull, including how they work together.

Read more: Attorney General to review 'lenient' sentences of 'monsters' who killed Arthur, 6

Conservative MP for Solihull Julian Knight said his constituency was feeling "collective heartbreak" over the tragedy following Arthur's death, resulting from "cruel and inhuman" abuse.

He described the convicted couple as "monsters".

A vigil is due to be held on Sunday by neighbours outside the front of Tustin's former address, where Arthur was killed.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi is set to make a House of Commons statement on the case on Monday.

He said: “Arthur’s murder has shocked and appalled the nation.

"I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life.

Read more: Evil stepmother Emma Tustin 'suicide risk' after being bullied by inmates in jail

A memorial for Arthur was shown own screens at a football match at The Den, London.
A memorial for Arthur was shown own screens at a football match at The Den, London. Picture: Alamy

"I have taken immediate action and asked for a joint inspection to consider where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in Solihull, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.

"Given the enormity of this case, the range of agencies involved and the potential for its implications to be felt nationally, I have also asked Annie Hudson, chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, to work with leaders in Solihull to deliver a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case.

"We are determined to protect children from harm and where concerns are raised we will not hesitate to take urgent and robust action. We will not rest until we have the answers we need."

On Sunday, Birmingham City FC and other football clubs around the country held a minute of applause for Arthur, who was often pictured in a Birmingham FC shirt.