A judge has ruled that a young Tower Hamlets girl can go and live with a family member after reports she was placed with a Muslim family who couldn’t speak English.
The council has rejected some aspects of reports, which have dominated headlines for days, and said it was always its intention to place the five-year-old Christian girl in a relative’s permanent care.
Since news came to light, claims suggested that the girl was upset at the placement, that her family begged the council to change its mind and that the girl was told Christmas and Easter were stupid – although this appears to contradict the claim her carers didn’t speak English.
The headlines were sufficient to fire up far-right activists including Britain First and the EDL while MPs have also raised questions about the wisdom of the placement.
A family court on Tuesday ruled the girl could stay with her grandmother.
Tower Hamlets Council said there had been several “inaccuracies” in the reporting of the case, particularly the claim that the foster family did not speak English, but it was prohibited from providing specific details.
In a statement, it said: “Tower Hamlets Council has the welfare of children at the heart of what we do.
“The decision to choose foster carers for a child is based on a number of factors, including cultural background and proximity to promote contact with the child’s family and the child’s school in order to give them as much stability as possible.
“We have always been working towards the child being looked after by a family member and we continue to do so.”
Despite considerable progress at the Town Hall since the departure of disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets still has a weakness around its care for children and young people.
Earlier this month the deputy mayor responsible for children’s services resigned . Cllr Rachael Saunders denied criticism over the quality of care was the reason – she cited a personal change in circumstance – but her decision followed strong criticism by Ofsted in April.
The watchdog body said too many fostered children remained in “situations of actual or potential harm” because of insufficient scrutiny.
The council’s “lack of understanding” in private fostering arrangements failed to consider whether they had been trafficked or abandoned by their parents, it reported.