Trevor Phillips has a lot to answer for. In his heyday, he was a fierce advocate for the Mohammedan takeover of the UK. Good for him that he backpedals, somewhat….
Decision to put a five-year-old Christian girl into Muslim foster care is like child abuse and the council must pay
It’s an outrage officials in Tower Hamlets, East London chose to value their pro-Muslim reputation above the welfare of the child
Worse still, the officials in Tower Hamlets, East London, whose children’s services were earlier this year condemned by inspectors as displaying “serious failures”, clearly placed being seen to be pro-Muslim above the welfare of the child concerned.
That’s hardly surprising in a council dogged for years by accusations of being dominated by an Islamist clique.
But it makes their actions worse than idiotic, and more akin to child abuse.
Thank heavens for the Muslim woman judge, Khatun Sapnara, who briskly dismissed the council’s objections and ordered them to take the child back to her grandmother.
I would lay a bet that life with Grandma is going to be part of the healing process.
For most of my own Caribbean childhood, my parents were thousands of miles away, hard-working immigrants to Britain. Grandma was my haven in a bewildering world.
Don’t get me wrong.
I have no objection to children living in families who do not share their ethnicity or even their faith.
The first camera operator I worked with in TV was a white boy who came from the same neck of the woods in North London as I do.
It was months before he casually mentioned that he had been fostered and that the woman he called his mum was a black Jamaican lady who lived across the park from my own family.
It gave him a deep insight into London’s black communities, which he used brilliantly and sensitively as we covered the 1980s race riots in the city.
In fact, during my years as Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality I became adamantly opposed to the local authority fixation with finding ethnically matched parents for children in care.
I saw too many children who had endured years of misery in children’s homes, or at the mercy of abusers or who became institutionalised.
I could not support the fiction that it was better for a black child to be in care than with a loving white family.
So why shouldn’t a white child cross the lines of race and religion as in the Tower Hamlets case?
Because in all the cases that I’ve seen, the test of a placement’s success isn’t some bureaucratic Dulux colour chart test — it is whether the child is happy and flourishing.
This child was frightened and lonely.
The paradox, of course, is that like many other doctrinaire local councils, for many years Tower Hamlets would have supported the multiculturalist orthodoxy of matching minority children to similar parents.
The hypocrites who are this week defending cross-cultural placement of a white child with a Muslim family would probably have been shouting the odds last week, insisting that black children needed to be placed with black families.
I have no greater personal regret about my own time in public office than my failure to put a stop to this ghastly game of painting by numbers years ago.
I am haunted by the belief that I might have saved hundreds of young lives from ruin by forcing councils to abandon their rigid rules and make them focus instead on the individual child’s welfare.
Instead, many thousands languished in care for far longer than they needed to because the right combination of colours could not be found.
I was brought to my senses over a decade ago by the brutal torture and death of Victoria Climbie, an eight-year-old Ivorian girl entrusted to distant relatives by her parents.
Her “aunt and uncle” believed they could rid her of evil by cruel treatment, the authorities had several chances to prevent her sacrifice, but all too often held back because they held her treatment to be somehow culturally protected.
The local authority rightly shared the shame for her death with her murderers.
In recent years, courageous newspapers have brought to light the grooming of children by men in mainly Pakistani communities, as well as that by men in the entertainment industry.
These people are disgusting perverts who deserve to be exposed, and there are many more out there.
But they were, albeit unwittingly, aided and abetted by officials’ apparent indifference to what was under their noses.
And as we saw when Tower Hamlets attempted to prevent reporting of the case, too often the first instinct on being found out is to prevent the truth being told.
Not all of those responsible for ruining children’s lives wear gold chains and drive flash cars.
Some can be conservatively dressed, and sit behind big desks in our town halls.
Some are women.
Ill-considered actions compounded by silence, just as much as the grooming gangs and disc jockeys, are responsible for the agony of vulnerable children.
These people must not escape public judgment.
- Trevor Phillips is a former head of the Commission for Racial Equality.