Cameron concern over Doncaster torture ‘cover-up’ risk

By staff

David Cameron has attacked the government’s failure to address violence in Doncaster before two boys were tortured and sexually abused last year.

The Conservative leader used four of his six questions in prime minister’s questions time to press Gordon Brown on whether the current processes supposed to prevent similar instances happening again were flawed.

PMQs as-it-happened

He wanted to know why it took “so long” for the government to intervene after two brothers tortured and sexually abused a nine- and 11-year-old in Doncaster in April 2009.

Mr Cameron asked: “If the prime minister wants to learn the lessons, one is – why did so much go wrong for so long before we intervened?”

A report published by the Children’s Safety Board has condemned Doncaster council’s handling of the risk of the attack, after it concluded the assault was entirely predictable and preventable.

The incident saw an 11-year-old found partially conscious in a railway cutting. The other injured child, aged nine, was found with severe cuts on his arms and face.

Reports at the time indicated the pair had been hit with a brick, slashed with a knife and burned with a cigarette.

The prime minister defended the procedure by which only the summary of serious case reviews are published, saying it was important to protect the anonymity of the children involved.

“The purpose is to learn lessons from what’s happened,” he said. “I hope the opposition party will not stand isolated from all the professional advice in this field.”

But Mr Cameron responded: “We’re not going to learn the lessons properly unless we get the information out in the public… aren’t we in danger of having a cover-up?”

The prime minister, perhaps frustrated by the lack of partisan to-and-fro which usually accompanies his PMQs exchanges with the leader of the opposition, finished by stating: “I’m sorry that on an issue when we do not have a final verdict in the court, he asks me a series of detailed questions when he hasn’t read the report either!”

Sketch: A dash of substance, then back to the playground