Radio Sandwell Local News

Family of Khyra Ishaq to sue Birmingham City Council

2013-01-07 17:49:30

Khyra Ishaq

The brothers and sisters of tragic Khyra Ishaq are suing Birmingham City Council for failing to prevent the horrific abuse and neglect they suffered at the hands of her killers.

Lawyers acting for the five surviving children, who cannot be named, have filed a "substantial" claim against the city for allegedly breaching duty of care to them and their sister for more than four months.

The claim, seen by the Mail, alleges that it's "very likely" that Khyra's death would have been prevented if the council had taken all of the children into care when teachers first raised the alarm.

All six children suffered horrific abuse at the hands of their mother Angela Gordon and her partner Junaid Abuhamza.

The pair admitted the manslaughter of seven-year-old Khyra, who died after suffering starvation and abuse at her home in Leyton Road, Handsworth, in May 2008.

They also admitted five counts of child cruelty at Birmingham Crown Court in March 2010.

Khyra and the other children were starved as well as being subjected to a harrowing punishment regime and a five-month detention, involving beatings with a cane.

The claim against the council relies on a liability report of a social work expert that was written in April 2012.

The claim letter adds: "We allege that you owed a duty of care to our clients and were in breach of that duty of care as a result of the negligent failure of Birmingham City Council's social services department to remove them from the family home.

"It is the case of all the living claimants and the case brought on behalf of the estate of Khyra Ishaq that your social services department ought reasonably to have removed all six children from the family home and placed them in local authority care on a date no later than January 9, 2008, which creates an alleged breach period of four months and eight days."

The claims, which briefly details some of the harrowing physical and psychological abuse inflicted on the children added: "It would appear that the children's teachers had done everything in their power to assist the children. But the efforts of the teachers to engage the social services department were ignored.

"Had the single visit they requested your social services department make to the family home been undertaken in December 2007 - and factoring in the reasonable period of approximately three weeks to obtain a care order thereafter - the children would have been removed into local authority care no later than January 9, 2008. It is very likely that the death of Khyra Ishaq would have been prevented."

Khyra weighed just 2st 9lb, had 60 external injuries and lay dying with pneumonia and meningitis for two days whilst her mother was downstairs eating a takeaway with her partner.

Two of her siblings also nearly died in hospital because of "re-feeding syndrome" a phenomenon first seen in the Nazi concentration camps where the shock of eating food causes the body to shut down.

Angela Gordon withdrew all of her children from the breakfast club in January 2007 and she wrote to the schools in March, 2007, asking staff to not give second helpings to the children.


Khyra Ishaq

In September 2007 she sent another letter to the schools, which told staff to stop overfeeding the children and she added that they should not be given chocolate milk.

The letter added: "Please do not give my son too much food. He does not know his limits. He is skinny simply because it is hereditary, not because he is starved at home, so please stop excessive feeding."

Summing up at the end of a year-long case at Birmingham County Court the honourable Mrs Justice Eleanor King DBE said: "Kyhra was desperately ill ... from when she had been beaten and made to stand for at least an hour in front of a cold fan.

"She died without medical treatment, without love, without comfort, or reassurance on a dirty mattress shared with her brothers and sisters in a room that she had scarcely left for five months."

She said expert witnesses had testified that Khyra would have suffered a very painful and unpleasant death.

The children's biological dad Ishaq Abuzaire is also pursuing proceedings on behalf of himself for the psychological injuries he has suffered since Khyra's death and the abuse of the surviving children.

Tony Hall, a partner at Birmingham-based Anthony Collins solicitors confirmed that Mr Abuzaire and the children had been granted legal aid to pursue the substantial claims against the city.

He added: "We have sent a letter of claim on behalf of our clients. The council has until the end of January to respond by making admissions or denying the allegations.

"Any settlement that is approved for any of our clients will have to approved in court by a judge."

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: "We can confirm that we have received a letter of claim in this case.

"It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings."

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