'We must listen to Arthur's voice now', says England's children's commissioner

5 December 2021, 11:35 | Updated: 5 December 2021, 11:38

By Sophie Barnett

England's children's commissioner has told Swarbrick on Sunday that we "must listen to Arthur's voice now" to make sure a similar tragedy doesn't happen again, adding that social services are "stretched to their limit".

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Dame Rachel de Souza, children's commissioner for England, told Tom that we must take "decisive action" following the "horrific" abuse and murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, aged six, by his parents.

His murder has shocked the nation, with a national investigation being launched by the government into his death to find out how he was "failed" by the system.

Dame Rachel said: "For Arthur, we need to both hear his voice and make sure this does not happen again.

"The life of a child, there is nothing more important, and that is why we need a national inquiry. That and the factor that, we might be hearing his voice now, but we didn't hear his voice when he was alive.

"And that is worthy of a national inquiry."

Read more: Government 'not satisfied' with sentences for 'appalling' murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

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

Ms de Souza said she wants to ensure children's voices are "always heard in the future".

Asked by Tom what she thinks needs to change, Ms de Souza said lockdown proved to be "difficult".

She said people did raise concerns but it's "always when children's voices aren't listened to when things go wrong".

"We need to make sure the voice of the child is at the centre of any children social care issues," she said.

She refused to point the blame, but said social services have been "stretched to their limit".

Read more: 'Hammer blow' for travel industry as pre-departure Covid tests return for all UK arrivals

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, age six, was murdered by his "evil" stepmother.
Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, age six, was murdered by his "evil" stepmother. Picture: Alamy

Tom asked Ms De Souza what her thoughts were on the sentences given to Arthur's parents - with his stepmother Emma Tustin receiving a life-sentence with a minimum of 29 years, and father Thomas Hughes getting 21 years.

The Attorney General is to review the sentences given to Tustin for murder and Hughes for manslaughter.

Tom asked: "Do you have a thought, or a gut feeling, about the sentences that were given to Arthur's parents, in particular his stepmother who murdered him?

"Minimum 29 years in prison, should it not be life without parole? Is that not a sentence that is too lenient?"

Ms de souza replied: "The most horrific, malevolent crime against a young defenceless child has been carried out.

"The loss of Arthur's life, no amount of years, no amount of discussion about sentencing can in any way answer that."

She refused to answer whether Tustin should get life, saying: "I want to see what that serious case review and the national review say."

Ms de Souza was also asked by Tom whether Arthur's tragic murder shows schools should never close again.

She said her "passion and intention" is to ensure schools do not close, referring to a recent survey of the country's children.

She told Tom: "I asked them about their experience of lockdown, and over half a million children responded.

"They told me they liked school, they wanted to be in school, they wanted to get their lives back on track. They made a huge sacrifice for us and we need to keep schools open for them. I really believe that's true."

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

Raab: Party can't act on Islamophobia claim 'in absence of formal complaint'

Raab: Party can't act on Islamophobia claim 'in absence of formal complaint'

Exclusive
Former Brexit Minister David Davis told LBC the Tories are "paralysed" as long as Johnson remains in power.

'Kindest thing' for Boris Johnson’s legacy would be for him to go, David Davis tells LBC

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch live from 10am

Swarbrick on Sunday 23/01 | Watch again

Labour Party is 'full of people that don't like this country', claims Tory MP

Labour Party is 'full of people that don't like this country', claims Tory MP

Caller says he knows Boris Johnson is a 'liar' and will support him 'no matter what'

Caller says he knows Boris Johnson is a 'liar' and will support him 'no matter what'

Tom Swarbrick grills Tory MP on 'technicality' allowing No.10's garden party

Tom Swarbrick grills Tory MP on 'technicality' allowing No.10 party

Streeting: 'No comparison' between No.10 partygate and Starmer beer photo

Streeting: 'No comparison' between No.10 partygate and Starmer beer photo

MPs Chris Bryant and Peter Bone had very different perceptions of the PM.

'He's making fools of every single Tory who comes on to defend him': MPs clash over PM

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch live from 10am

Swarbrick on Sunday 16/01 | Watch again

Winston Churchill's grandson shares fury at Colston Four verdict

'They're on the wrong side of the law!' Churchill's grandson rages at Colston Four verdict

'Has Molly-Mae taken over the Conservative party, Mr Zahawi?'

'Has Molly-Mae taken over the Conservative party, Mr Zahawi?'

The Shadow Chancellor told LBC: "Broken promises won't pay people's bills"

'A catastrophe': Shadow Chancellor hits out at govt over spiralling energy costs

Nadhim Zahawi said he "didn't recognise" the report that free lateral flow tests will be scrapped in the coming weeks.

Lateral flow tests will remain free for now, minister insists

Swarbrick on Sunday | Watch live from 10am

Swarbrick On Sunday 09/01 | Watch in Full

Best of 2021: Tom Swarbrick hears from desperate publican

Best of 2021: Tom Swarbrick hears from desperate publican

Professor Alastair Grant believes the government didn't introduce new measures because cases appear to have 'plateaued'

Covid cases 'appear to have flattened', virus modeller tells LBC