Kingston Council leader criticises Charito Cruz safeguarding whistleblower
The leader of Kingston Council has criticised a whistleblower who revealed social workers failed to act before the murder of Charito Cruz.
Council leader Derek Osbourne and lead member for children Patricia Bamford issued a statement this afternoon through the Kingston Liberal Democrats office - more than 24 hours after a television report revealed more failures by the borough's safeguarding team.
Ms Cruz, 37, was murdered in front of her baby daughter in September 2011 by boyfriend Asad Niazi, who hit her over the head with a hammer 50 times.
The BBC reported yesterday that social workers had twice received referrals for Ms Cruz regarding concerns for her daughter, but they were ignored.
Whistleblower Olivia Butler, a former interim head of social services in Kingston, told the BBC social workers who changed the records did so "to cover up the lack of action and proper response".
But Coun Osbourne said she should have come forward to Kingston Council sooner.
He said: “I am extremely disturbed that the interim manager, Olivia Butler, who left the council over a year ago, did not come forward and disclose this to us at the time.
"We could then have put her concerns into the public domain and done something about them. "Why leave it for 16 months before speaking out?
"The council is fully participating in the multi-agency domestic homicide review which is currently underway under an independent chair.
"It is tragic that Charito Cruz lost her life and all the agencies concerned will want to learn any lessons arising from this case relating to domestic violence."
Coun Bamford added: “The news carried in yesterday’s report about what happened in September 2011 is dreadful and we have worked very hard to ensure this could not happen again.
"The domestic homicide review will cover any aspects of the case which would improve safeguarding practice in relation to domestic violence and its impact on children.
"The systems we have already put in place are now more robust and our managerial oversight and supervision is much improved.
"We have put in place a considerable number of improvements since September 2011 but need to await the outcome of the domestic homicide review findings, when it is published, about anything that we could have done better in relation to our safeguarding practice for children."