Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Balloons released as tribute to six-year-old as government confirms review

ITV News Correspondent Vincent McAviney reports on the details of the major review announced by the government into the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

Balloons have been released as a tribute to six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes who was murdered by his stepmother, as the government announce a major review into his death.

People gathered outside Emma Tustin's address in Solihull - she was jailed for life with a minimum term of 29 years for his murder and his father, Thomas Hughes, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter - to lay flowers and release balloons as a tribute to Arthur.

People release balloons as a tribute to six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes

On Sunday afternoon, the crowd formed a line outside the house before balloons, posters and flowers were placed around the property.

Residents, some with tears in their eyes, could be heard saying “bye Arthur” and “fly high always”.

'I just want to be here to show my respect to that poor little boy'

It comes as the government announced a review into the circumstances which led to his murder, which will determine what improvements are needed by the agencies that came into contact with Arthur in the months before he was murdered - including the police, schools, social services and probation watchdogs.

Arthur's grandma was in tears as people gathered to pay tribute to the six-year-old. Credit: PA

The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will lead the review and will provide additional support to Solihull Children’s Safeguarding Partnership to “upgrade” the already existing local review which was launched shortly after Arthur’s death in June 2020.

The action comes after it emerged in court the boy had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

Flowers are laid as a tribute to Arthur Labinjo-Hughes on Sunday. Credit: PA

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he was "shocked and appalled" by Arthur's murder.

“I am deeply distressed by this awful case and the senseless pain inflicted on this poor boy, who has been robbed of the chance to live his life," he said.

“I have taken immediate action and asked for a joint inspection to consider where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in Solihull, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes.

Arthur Labinjo-Hughes with his father, Thomas Hughes, and Hughes’ partner, Emma Tustin Credit: Family handout/West Midlands Police/PA

“Given the enormity of this case, the range of agencies involved and the potential for its implications to be felt nationally, I have also asked Annie Hudson, chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, to work with leaders in Solihull to deliver a single, national review of Arthur’s death to identify where we must learn from this terrible case."

A targeted area inspection will be also commissioned and led jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Probation.

It will consider what improvements are needed by all agencies who protect vulnerable children in Solihull, including how they work together.

Emma Tustin (left) and her partner Thomas Hughes were found guilty of killing Arthur Labinjo-Hughes Credit: West Midlands Police

On Saturday, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) confirmed Tustin and Hughes’ sentences are to be reviewed.

The AGO has 28 days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme, and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal then makes a ruling on cases which have been referred.

A memorial for Arthur Labinjo-Hughes is shown on the big screen before the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London Credit: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

A spokesperson for the AGO said: “The Attorney General’s thoughts are with those who loved Arthur. I can confirm that the sentences given to Emma Tustin and Thomas Hughes have been referred to the Attorney General for review to determine whether they were too low.”

On Saturday, football fans applauded during the sixth minute of the West Ham vs Chelsea game as a picture of Arthur was shown on a screen.

More tributes were paid by Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City – while Aston Villa will do the same during Sunday’s clash with Leicester.