THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART ONE: CRUSADE

 

Norfolk_series_head_01
A YEAR ago today award-winning reporter Andrew Norfolk published a piece of rogue journalism.

In a series of three articles in The Times he accused the London borough of Tower Hamlets of forcing a 5-year-old Christian child to live with Muslim foster carers.

It was a sensational exposé which made headlines around the world.

But the series was a cynical crusade against Tower Hamlets, its social workers and foster carers.

It’s part of a growing body of anti-Muslim articles in The Times.

A year-long Press Gang investigation shows Norfolk’s series was only made possible because he excluded key material.

He suppressed four important pieces of evidence:

— the mother of the child was born to Muslim parents

—  Tower Hamlets was always in favour of the child being cared for by her grandmother

— the mother has used a British-Pakistani barrister in court proceedings

— foster care experts warned Norfolk the mother’s version of events was likely to be faulty.

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ANATOMY OF A SMEAR
YOU ARE reading the first part of the most comprehensive account of Andrew Norfolk’s rogue journalism. It has taken a year to produce and includes a broad-ranging complaint to the press watchdog IPSO.
Press Gang is an independent investigative website edited by the retired former ITV current affairs producer Paddy French. He is unpaid.
Press Gang played a part in the downfall of former News of the World reporter Mazher Mahmood and exposed the unscrupulous career of Piers Morgan.
However, the expense of running the site is significant — the Guardian, for example, charged us £60 for a licence to use the picture of Andrew Norfolk.
If you want to help Press Gang bring rogue journalists to book, you can make a donation, either a small one-off amount or a more useful monthly subscription. You’ll find the Donate button at the end of this article. 

One told him bluntly:

“You shouldn’t go near this story — it just doesn’t ring true.”

Norfolk’s investigation provoked a storm of protest.

The Muslim Council of Britain branded the articles “disgracefully dishonest”.

The press complaints watchdog IPSO, part-funded by The Times, declined to investigate more than 150 complaints.

It wasn’t until Tower Hamlets entered the fray that IPSO ruled Norfolk and The Times had been inaccurate.

IPSO found their coverage “gave the impression that the judge had found the placement was a ‘failure’ by the council …”

‘“This was a distortion.”

In a major humiliation for Norfolk, The Times was forced to publish a highly critical ruling — and flag it up on the front page.

Press Gang can now reveal that Tower Hamlets also made a complaint against The Sun which had followed up Norfolk’s coverage

Sun Editor Tony Gallagher — unlike Times editor John Witherow — surrendered immediately.

The paper wrote to Tower Hamlets, accepting “the article was not accurate”.

Andrew Norfolk, though, remains unrepentant.

“I think we did our job as a newspaper,” he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 shortly after his series was published.

Until these articles Norfolk, the chief investigative reporter of The Times, was one of Britain’s most respected journalists.

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EXCLUSIVE
THE SUN RECANTS
SUN EDITOR Tony Gallagher (above) initially repeated many of the allegations made by The Times. But the tabloid threw in the towel as soon as Tower Hamlets complained. In December 2017 the paper wrote to the council accepting that these allegations were “inaccurate”. On newspaper databases which still make the article available, the paper added that “future reporting of claims made that the child was forced to speak Arabic, had a gold cross removed, was banned from eating carbonara because of the pork content and ate meals off the floor should not be reported as fact. A court appointed independent guardian visited the foster carer and interviewed the child alone and found there to be no issues with care and care to be of a good standard.”
Photo: News UK

His work in exposing the sexual grooming of  vulnerable young girls, starting in 2011, is widely regarded as a classic piece of investigative reporting.

It won Norfolk many awards.

But among many thoughtful journalists, concerned at the rising tide of Islamophobia in some British newspapers, Norfolk’s role in the “Christian child” saga is chilling.

They cannot understand how a dedicated and courageous reporter could lower his standards to produce a series so one-sided it qualifies as rogue journalism.

Press Gang investigates the shame of Andrew Norfolk.

♦♦♦

IN March last year, police were called to a building in East London.

Officers found a young woman and her 5-year-old daughter.

Because the law protects the identity of the child, Press Gang can only reveal part of what happened.

Police decided that the circumstances in which they found the child required them to exercise their “powers of protection”.

They removed the child from her mother.

Because the incident took place in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, it was the council’s social workers who took charge of the little girl.

Social services now had to find emergency foster care while the courts decided what should happen to the child.

The 5-year-old has an unusual background.

Her mother comes from a relatively humble Muslim background in a predominantly Muslim country.

The mother tongue of both the child’s mother and her grandmother is not English.

The child knows her grandmother well.

She has her own room in her grandparents’ home.

The child’s mother insists her upbringing was Christian.

She says her daughter is also Christian.

Andrew Norfolk

CRUSADER
ANDREW NORFOLK made his name with his 2011 series about mainly British-Pakistani men sexually grooming and sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham. It led to several awards including the Orwell Prize and Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. He was named Journalist of the Year at the 2014 British Press Awards. When he first heard about the grooming allegations his immediate thought was “this is a dream story for the far right.”  
Photo: Graham Turner for The Guardian

The child’s biological father does not appear to play a significant role in her upbringing.

Social workers now had to decide where the child should go.

They chose a foster carer who was an English-speaking Muslim whose first language is Arabic.

Their own children speak English as their main language — and English is the language used in the home.

At a court hearing in March, the mother asked that her daughter be placed in the care of her grandmother.

Tower Hamlets was in favour if the grandmother passed the necessary assessment process.

The process was delayed partly because the grandmother’s main residence was in a foreign country and because official documents had to be translated into her mother tongue.

When the first foster carers went on an extended holiday in June, a second Muslim family took over.

In the summer of 2017 “friends” of the child’s mother contacted Andrew Norfolk and told him they were concerned about the foster carers.

They provided reports from a social services supervisor which stated:

— the child was sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster home because “they don’t speak English”

— the child claimed that the carer removed her necklace which had a Christian cross and

— the child claimed the carer suggested she should learn Arabic.

Family “friends” also told Norfolk:

— the carer refused to allow the child to eat her favourite Italian food, carbonara, because it contained bacon

— the first foster carer wore a niqab while the second foster carer wore a burqa.

♦♦♦

ANDREW NORFOLK now began to examine the evidence.

He contacted experts in fostering.

One of these was Andy Elvin, chief executive of The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT).

Elvin said that, in emergency placements like this one, the number of available foster carers would be limited.

Social workers would take into account the nature of the foster carer’s home situation and their ability to give the little girl a stable home environment.

Norfolk told Elvin about the allegation that the foster carers didn’t speak English.

Elvin told him this was nonsense: all foster carers went through a lengthy assessment to make sure they were fluent in both spoken and written English.

Norfolk also asked about the removal of personal effects.

Elvin said there were likely to be sound reasons for taking this course of action.

He added:

“Norfolk also appeared to be totally unaware of basic family court proceedings.”

“This included the fact that the court appoints a guardian, independent of both the parent and the foster carer / local authority, to make sure the child is properly cared for.”

Norfolk said his sources included council reports and concerns raised by “friends” of the mother.

Elvin said he didn’t think this was good enough.

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IGNORED
ANDY ELVIN (above) is the chief executive of the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity. He warned Andrew Norfolk that there were problems with the narrative he was exploring. The reporter ignored him …  
Photo: TACT

He told him:

“You shouldn’t go near this story —it just doesn’t ring true.”

At this point, Elvin says, Norfolk accused him of being “defensive”.

Norfolk also spoke to a journalist who is a foster carer.

This individual doesn’t want to be identified.

Norfolk gave him much more background information about the case.

The journalist told Press Gang:

“He knew that the child’s heritage was complex and that she was the daughter of migrants on both sides.”

“He had enough information to work out that some members of the family may also be Muslim”.

“He knew that the maternal grandmother had applied for custody and was being viewed favourably by social services.”

“As a foster carer, I challenged many of the claims made about the foster carers in Tower Hamlets.”

“I questioned the reasons why the crucifix might have been removed: we probably would have done the same, mainly for the child’s safety given her age.”

“I explained that birth families routinely — and understandably, perhaps — find fault in foster carers or make false allegations.”

“I also explained that family contact sessions are often difficult, and generally don’t reflect the quality of the placement.”

“I told him he should be very careful.”

These warnings should have been enough for Norfolk to dig deeper into the mother’s tale.

Was she telling the whole truth about her daughter’s placement?

Norfolk was also uniquely placed to investigate the mother’s background.

The Times’ news desk — like those of all national newspapers — was well aware of the circumstances in which the child came to be taken into care.

But Norfolk also had access to the mother — either directly (which he has never confirmed) or through “friends”.

He should have asked for documentary evidence of the mother’s Christianity and for the certificate showing where and when the little girl was baptised.

It would also have been easy for him (as it was for Press Gang) to establish that

— the mother has had relationships with men from several different countries

— this wasn’t the first time she’d been involved with the police

— she appeared to have issues with both alcohol and drugs

— she has an older child who has been the subject of proceedings in the family court.

If Andrew Norfolk made these inquiries, he decided not to share the results with readers of The Times.

Towards the end of August last year Norfolk and senior figures at the paper decided on the editorial line they were going to take.

The paper would publish the mother’s version of events.

The paper also decided that the story would feature on the front page on Monday, August 28.

The date was significant because there was a long-arranged hearing of the family scheduled for the next day.

And, a fortnight earlier, Tower Hamlets had informed the family court that the assessment of the grandmother had finally been completed.

It was positive.

This meant that the court was almost certain to end the foster care and place the child in the care of her grandmother.

Family court experts say that the mother’s legal team would have also have been informed of these developments.

Press Gang asked Andrew Norfolk and The Times if this was the reason why August 28 was chosen.

After that date, the child would no longer have been in the care of Muslim foster carers but have moved to be with her Muslim grandmother.

Neither Norfolk nor The Times answered the question.

♦♦♦

THE TIMES front page headline on August 28 could not have been starker:

Christian child forced into Muslim foster care

The sub-head read:

Concern for girl who ‘had cross removed and was encouraged to learn Arabic’

The first six paragraphs of the main story set out Andrew Norfolk’s thesis:

A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic.

The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

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In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.

The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.

It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.

More recently, the girl is said to have told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.

The article was illustrated by two photographs, taken from behind, which showed the second of the child’s foster carers wearing a burqa.

The child was shown wearing European clothing.

Her long hair was slightly pixellated.

The captions included the text:

“The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cult­ural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months.”

The article added that Tower Hamlets was a “scandal-ridden” council, citing the removal of mayor Lutfer Rahman in 2015 for corrupt and illegal electoral practices.

It also noted an Ofsted report in April 2017 which found “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

Rating the children’s service as inadequate, Ofsted condemned an “entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards”.

The next day Norfolk published a second story with the headline:

Parents begged Tower Hamlets council to let child in Muslim care stay with grandmother

The article continued:

A council that forced a Christian child to live with conservative Muslim foster carers has blocked a number of attempts to move her to families where she would feel more at home.

Inquiries by The Times have established that the girl’s family has spent the past six months begging the London borough of Tower Hamlets to allow the five-year-old to be released into the care of close family friends or relatives.

The east London council has most recently opposed attempts to place the child into the temporary care of her grandmother.

♦♦♦

THE story was picked up by media in both Britain and abroad.

The credibility of The Times combined with Andrew Norfolk’s reputation persuaded many journalists and commentators to accept the paper’s narrative as fact.

Two examples show how toxic some of the coverage became.

Journalist Allison Pearson, writing in the Daily Telegraph a few days later, wrote:

It’s like something from a dark, dystopian drama.

She added

The authorities note that the child sobs and begs not to be sent back to the foster home “because they don’t speak English”. Her alarmed mother reports that her daughter says “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that European women are “alcoholic”.

Incredibly, this is not science fiction.It’s happening right now, in Tower Hamlets, a scandal-ridden London borough, where the five-year-old has spent the past six months in the care of two different Muslim households.

The Sun published a column by Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, which carried the headline:

The decision to put a five-year-old Christian girl into Muslim foster care is like child abuse and the council must pay.

Phillips took The Times narrative as gospel.

♦♦♦

ANDREW NORFOLK could only publish his story by purging it of inconvenient facts and deceiving his readers about key evidence.

NATIONALITY

Norfolk bent the narrative to leave readers with the impression that the little girl was English.

Norfolk purged anything that might suggest the girl’s parents were foreign-born migrants.

He also purged the fact that the grandmother was foreign-born.

He deceived readers by describing the little girl as being a “native English” speaker. 

WITHEROW

JOHN WITHEROW
EVER SINCE he took over the editor’s chair at The Times in 2013, John Witherow has been under fire for his coverage of issues involving Briton’s Muslim population. In 2015 the press watchdog IPSO ruled that a Times story headed “One in five British Muslims has sympathy for Isis” was inaccurate. The paper had twisted a survey in which respondents weren’t even asked about the terrorist group. In 2012, when he was editor of the Sunday Times, the paper published a front page article written by the now-disgraced Mazher Mahmood, gaoled in 2016 for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The piece accused a Muslim dentist of being willing to perform female genital mutilation. The police investigation collapsed when it turned out that an undercover “associate” of Mahmood’s had probably prostituted herself to persuade the dentist to co-operate. For the full story, see Withering Heights.
Photo: PA

He deceived readers by publishing a photo in which the little girl looked just like any ordinary English child.

MUSLIM BACKGROUND

Norfolk twisted his story to suggest the little girl was an English Christian trapped in families from an alien religious background.

To do this he had to purge the fact that the mother was from a Muslim background.

A court-approved document later made it clear her parents are Muslim.

The same document record the mother’s insistence that they are Christian.

This fundamental conflict was of no interest to Andrew Norfolk.

Norfolk also purged his narrative of the comments made by the experts he talked to.

They told him there might be innocent explanations for the removal of a necklace carrying a cross such as concerns for the little girl’s safety.

These warnings did not suit Norfolk’s chosen narrative so he simply ignored them.

LANGUAGE

In order to emphasise the horror of an apparently English-speaking girl under pressure to speak Arabic, Norfolk purged the complex linguistic heritage of the child, the mother and the grandmother.

It’s clear the child speaks at least English and the foreign language spoken by her grandmother.

The mother is multi-lingual.

The grandmother speaks English poorly at best.

TOWER HAMLETS

For Andrew Norfolk, the villain of the piece was Tower Hamlets council.

To do this he had to purge the fact that social workers had always approved the grandmother as a carer provided an assessment was positive.

Norfolk deceived his readers by using emotive language like the mother “begging” the council to allow the child to go to her grandmother.

And by stating that the council “blocked” the mother’s wish for the child to go to her grandmother.

In his first article he purged the fact that the social services supervisor’s report — the only documentary evidence he had — concerned highly charged contact sessions with the mother.

He deceived readers by leaving out the fact that the child had a court-appointed guardian who was independent of both the mother and Tower Hamlets. 

He also purged his account of the critical Ofsted report of comments which praised parts of the fostering service:

“Most children in care live in good foster homes …”

“Children living with family members and foster carers are generally settled.”

“The fostering service is actively recruiting new carers, and it supports carers well. Care proceedings are effective for most children in progressing plans for permanence.”

♦♦♦

IT WAS after Andrew Norfolk had published his first two articles that the East London Family Court sat to decide the fate of the little girl.

Judge Khatun Sapnara heard the assessment of the grandmother was positive.

Both the mother and Tower Hamlets were in favour of the child going to live with her.

The judge agreed.

Andrew Norfolk and The Times reported the hearing in a front page story the next day which included the sub-head: 

The Times praised for exposing council’s failure

But the judiciary were already moving to place a completely different narrative into the public domain.

Judge Sapnara ordered a summary of the court proceedings to be published.

It was blunt:

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court makes it clear that the decision to approve the new care arrangements for the child to live with the grandmother under an interim care order is as a result of the application of the relevant law to the evidence now available to the court and not as a result of any influence arising out of media reports.”

The summary noted that the child’s “biological father has not been located.”

It stated that the mother’s legal representation was paid for out of public funds.

It also stated that the child’s guardian — appointed through the court and independent of both the mother and Tower Hamlets — “has no concerns as to the child’s welfare and she reports that the child is settled and well cared for by the foster carer.”

The court also ordered that legal representatives for the mother and Tower Hamlets produce an agreed statement.

Both parties accepted that the first foster carer wore a hajib [the headscarf] and not the niqab Andrew Norfolk had stated as fact in the opening paragraph of his first article. 

This statement recorded the views of the grandmother.

She “… has been distressed and angered by the allegations against the foster carers which she has said were false and lies.”

These allegations were made by the mother and reported by Andrew Norfolk.

The grandmother “has a good relationship with the carers and is grateful for the excellent care she says that they have provided to the child.”

The child told the grandmother that she “is missing the foster carer and has asked … if she can have contact with the family.”

♦♦♦

NEXT
HALLELUJAH!

THE INSIDE story of the dramatic court hearing that began to unravel Andrew Norfolk’s narrative. The judge breaks with tradition and publishes a highly revealing summary of proceedings. Noting the disagreements between the mother and the foster carers, she orders a report to be prepared that both Tower Hamlets and the mother must agree. When it’s published, it does even more damage to Andrew Norfolk’s version of events.

♦♦♦

NOTES

1
The original title of this series — The Fall Of Andrew Norfolk — was changed on 24 September 2018.

2
The full text of Andrew Norfolk’s first two articles can be found at the end of this article. Press Gang is adding them because The Times operates a pay wall. 

♦♦♦

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APPENDIX 

FIRST TIMES ARTICLE
28 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEAD

“Christian child forced into Muslim foster care”

SUB-HEAD

“Concern for girl who ‘had cross removed and was encouraged to learn Arabic”

PICTURE CAPTION 1 

The girl with one of the two Muslim carers appointed by Tower Hamlets

PICTURE CAPTION  2

The five-year-old girl, whose identity The Times is protecting, with her present foster carer. Her mother is said to be horrified by the alien cult­ural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months

A white Christian child was taken from her family and forced to live with a niqab-wearing foster carer in a home where she was allegedly encouraged to learn Arabic.

The five-year-old girl, a native English speaker, has spent the past six months in the care of two Muslim households in London. The foster placements were made, against the wishes of the girl’s family, by the scandal-ridden borough of Tower Hamlets.

In confidential local authority reports seen by The Times, a social services supervisor describes the child sobbing and begging not to be returned to the foster carer’s home because “they don’t speak English”.

The reports state that the supervisor heard the girl, who at times was “very distressed”, claiming that the foster carer removed her necklace, which had a Christian cross, and also suggested that she should learn Arabic.

It is understood that the child told her mother that when she was given her favourite Italian food to take home, the foster carer would not allow her to eat it because the carbonara meal contained bacon.

More recently, the girl is said to have told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid” and that “European women are stupid and alcoholic”.

In any decision regarding a foster placement, local authorities are required to give due consideration to the child’s “religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background”.

Tower Hamlets refused to respond to requests to explain why it had chosen to place a white, English-speaking Christian child with Muslim foster carers, including one household where she was unable to understand the language spoken by the family.

Her first carer, with whom the girl lived for four months, is believed to have worn a niqab outside the family home. The carer at her present foster placement wears a burka, fully concealing her face, when she accompanies the child in public.

The wearing of a niqab or burka generally indicates adherence to a conservative, Salafi-influenced interpretation of Islam that is often contemptuous of liberal western values.

To protect the child, The Times has chosen not to identify her or the unusual circumstances that led to her being taken into care earlier this year.

The girl’s mother is said by friends to have been horrified by the alien cultural, religious and linguistic environment in which her daughter has spent the past six months.

“This is a five-year-old white girl. She was born in this country, speaks English as her first language, loves football, holds a British passport and was christened in a church,” said a friend.

“She’s already suffered the huge trauma of being forcibly separated from her family. She needs surroundings in which she’ll feel secure and loved. Instead, she’s trapped in a world where everything feels foreign and unfamiliar. That’s really scary for a young child.”

In some areas of the country, a longstanding shortage of foster carers from ethnic-minority backgrounds frequently leads to non-white children being, of necessity, placed with white British foster parents. It is far less common for the reverse to take place.

Published fostering statistics for England show that of the 51,800 children who were in foster placements last year, 39,900 (77 per cent) were white, as were 52,500 (84 per cent) of the 62,400 approved foster carers.

The 2011 national census found that 80 per cent of England’s population was white British, falling to 45 per cent in London and 31 per cent in inner-city Tower Hamlets.

Across the capital last year, 39 per cent of fostered children and 42 per cent of foster carers were white. In Tower Hamlets, only 24 per cent of looked-after children were white.

No figures were published nationally or at local authority level to show how many children were placed with foster carers of a different ethnicity.

Tower Hamlets declined to reveal how many cross-cultural foster placements it was overseeing. The council also refused to say whether it had a shortage of white British foster carers. It cited confidentiality obligations and accused The Times of putting at risk the stability of a vulnerable child’s foster placement and schooling.

Ten years ago a council report warned of a need to “recruit foster carers from a range of backgrounds” in Tower Hamlets to enable it “to match carers and children, taking into account a number of factors including ethnicity, religion, language, culture and location”.

The under-represented communities that it sought to target in 2008 in adverts for new foster carers were “Caribbean, African, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi (for older children) and white”.

More recently the council has earned public notoriety. In 2015 it was stripped by the government of many of its powers after its former mayor, Lutfur Rahman, was found guilty of corrupt and illegal electoral practices.

In April this year an Ofsted inspection of the council found “widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

Rating the children’s service as inadequate, it condemned an “entrenched culture of non-compliance with basic social work standards”.

The Department for Education said it was unable to comment on cases but a spokesman stressed that “when placing a child in a foster home, the local authority must ensure that the placement is the most appropriate way to safeguard the child and support their welfare. A child’s background is an important consideration in this decision.”


SECOND TIMES ARTICLE
29 August 2017

BYLINE

Andrew Norfolk, Chief Investigative Reporter

HEAD

“Parents begged Tower Hamlets council to let child in Muslim care stay with grandmother”

PICTURE CAPTION Tower Hamlets has placed a young Christian girl into foster care with two Muslim families in turn. For the past two months, the child’s care has been entrusted by the council to a foster carer who wears a burka
A council that forced a Christian child to live with conservative Muslim foster carers has blocked a number of attempts to move her to families where she would feel more at home.

Inquiries by The Times have established that the girl’s family has spent the past six months begging the London borough of Tower Hamlets to allow the five-year-old to be released into the care of close family friends or relatives.

The east London council has most recently opposed attempts to place the child into the temporary care of her grandmother.

Instead, she initially spent four months with a carer whose family often spoke Arabic when she was with them, leading the girl to complain that she was unable to understand what they were saying.

A Tower Hamlets employee who supervised regular meetings between the child and her family recorded the child’s distress, at the conclusion of each meeting, when she was handed over to the carer.

In a written report of one meeting, the contact supervisor described the girl as “very emotional and tearful”.

“She said they don’t speak English at the home, she doesn’t understand the Arabic words where she is. [The girl] said she wants to go back home to her [mother].”

The social services employee heard the child whispering Arabic words to her mother that she was allegedly told must be said aloud to ensure that “when you die you go to heaven”.

Her reports also describe the child’s account of her necklace, which carried a Christian cross, having been removed, and not returned, by the first foster carer.

After another supervised meeting, the council worker heard the child explaining to her mother that the foster carer “said she needs to ask [her social worker] if she can learn Arabic”.

At the end of the meeting, the girl “started crying and saying that she doesn’t want to go back”.

For the past two months, the child’s care has been entrusted by the council to a second foster carer. Both women concealed their faces when they were with the girl in public, the first by wearing a niqab and the second with a burka.

It is understood that the five-year-old has also spoken of the first foster carer having refused to let her eat a meal of carbonara because it had bacon in it.

Friends of the family said she had also told her mother that “Christmas and Easter are stupid”.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that any state agency considering a foster placement must pay due regard to “the desirability of continuity in a child’s upbringing and to the child’s ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background”.

Tower Hamlets has refused to respond to requests from The Times to explain why it has twice chosen to place the girl in an environment that is wholly alien to her heritage and upbringing.

A council spokesman said yesterday that its fostering service “provides a loving, stable home for hundreds of children every year”. All its foster carers received training and support to ensure they were “fully qualified to meet the needs of the children in their care”.

“In every case, we give absolute consideration to our children’s background and their cultural identity.”

A national shortage of foster carers from minority ethnic backgrounds, particularly in rural areas, often leads to a non-white child being placed with white British foster carers. It is far more unusual for a white child to be placed in a non-white foster home.

According to published fostering statistics for England in 2016, 84 per cent of approved foster carers were white, as were 77 per cent of fostered children.

ENDS

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One Response to “THE SHAME OF ANDREW NORFOLK — PART ONE: CRUSADE”

  1. Richard Bartholomew Says:

    Excellent work.

    If Norfolk is true to form, he or The Times will again make an aggrieved comment about how he is being falsely accused of “Islamophobia” by “the left” for raising a matter of public concern that has a racial/ethnic element. That’s the usual method by which he (and his favourite MP, Sarah Champion) tries to discourage criticism. I looked at some of the media issues here.

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