'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

We must make sure what happened to Arthur doesn't happen again

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

Tom Swarbrick puts theory to Dame Rachel De Souza

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."

‘Wicked’ stepmother and ‘pitiless’ father jailed for killing Arthur

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

Exclusive
UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's deputy tells LBC, amid warning members have 'neglected defence'

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's Deputy General tells LBC, as he warns Russia 'cannot be trusted'

Emma Webber (left) speaking to LBC

Mother of Nottingham attack victim Barnaby Webber blasts police ‘mistruths’ after force is put in special measures

Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes.

Former refugees minister Lord Harrington calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes

Mel Stride has backed the PM

Rishi Sunak has 'absolutely not' betrayed nation over Rwanda plan, insists minister after Braverman's attack on PM

Tom and caller

'Our family is there': Mother shares heartbreaking experience of being a British Jew during Israel-Hamas conflict

The ban will be brought into effect in months

'Children should be in the classroom to learn': Gillian Keegan orders 'blanket ban' of mobile phones in schools

Exclusive
Tributes have been paid to Elianne after she was stabbed to death in Croydon

Fellow pupil of schoolgirl stabbed to death in Croydon describes heartbreaking moment students were told of her killing

Scotland's first safe drug consumption space set to be openned

'Isn't this just decriminalising heroin?': Tom Swarbrick questions Labour MSP over first safe drug consumption room

The education secretary discusses educational reforms with Tom Swarbrick

Shadow education secretary says 'Building Schools for the Future Programme' would have prevented Raac crisis

Tom Swabrick

'Is it not completely mental?': Tom Swarbrick astonished as schools shut due to crumble-risk concrete before new term

Exam results

Equation sheets given to GCSE cohort in attempt lessen reduced grade inflation blow, schools minister says

Crime commentator on Adam Provan

Internal review of rapist ex-Met officer is the equivalent of 'marking your own homework', says crime commentator

Education Secretary discuss new Eton free schools on LBC

‘Bailed out by Eton’: Education Secretary discusses new free schools with Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Exclusive
Lord Edward Garnier has called for a public inquiry into Andrew Malkinson's case

Top lawyer blasts Andrew Malkinson rape case as the 'worst miscarriage of justice of the 21st century'

Suella Barge

Suella Braverman can't be blamed for housing migrants on barge with Legionella, ConservativeHome editor says