'Horrific' death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes prompts government pledge to 'get to truth'

The "whole nation is distraught" at the "tragic and horrific" death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi has told MPs.

Addressing the Commons as he confirmed a review and targeted inspection will take place in the wake of six-year-old Arthur's murder, Mr Zahawi said it was impossible to imagine how any adult "could commit such evil acts against a child".

The MP for Stratford-on-Avon added: "I know that colleagues and people outside of this place are seriously troubled that Arthur was subjected to a campaign of appalling cruelty and murdered after concerns had been raised with local services."

Mr Zahawi went on: "I am as determined as everybody in this House to get to the truth and expose what went wrong, and take any action necessary to protect children."

Arthur's stepmother Emma Tustin, 32, was jailed for life at Coventry Crown Court on Friday, with a minimum term of 29 years, after being found guilty of the little boy’s murder.

His father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was sentenced to 21 years for manslaughter.

Tustin and Hughes were jailed for a combined 50 years for killing Arthur Credit: PA/West Mids Police

Peter Halcrow, 61, the maternal grandfather of Arthur, from Dunkeld, Perthshire, has reportedly called for the pair to never leave prison, after the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) confirmed their sentences are to be reviewed.

Mr Zahawi told MPs the targeted review would be part of efforts to assess why things went “horrifyingly wrong and what more could be done to prevent abuse such as this happening again”.

Mr Zahawi told MPs: "Since the horrendous deaths of Peter Connelly, Daniel Pelka and, sadly, others, the Government has established stronger multi-agency working – putting a shared and equal duty on police, councils and health in local areas to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, alongside a role for schools.

"I am sure members across the House will recognise that improvements have been made from previous reviews, but the question now is whether that is enough."

Mr Zahawi, on the targeted area inspection jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and HM Inspectorate of Probation, said: "This will mean we can truly look at where improvements are needed by all the agencies tasked with protecting children in the Solihull area, so that we can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to protect other children and prevent such evil crimes."

Arthur's death has prompted an outpouring of anger and grief

Mr Zahawi said: "No Government anywhere in the world can legislate for evil, but we will take action wherever we can to stop it from happening again because we must do more."

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said Labour welcomed Mr Zahawi’s “clear determination to get to the bottom of what has happened and his action in ordering a national review and a joint targeted area inspection”.

Ms Phillipson said: "This has been a truly horrendous case."

She added: "I welcome the announcement by the Attorney General’s office that the sentences handed down on Friday will be reviewed under the unduly lenient sentences scheme.”

Ms Phillipson added: "Questions about how the services that should be keeping children safe are overseen and why tragically cases like this keep happening."

Julian Knight, the Conservative MP for Solihull, asked Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to confirm “this investigation will proceed without fear nor favour and that at the end of it we will know clearly and publicly who failed Arthur and how he was failed”.

Mr Zahawi replied: "I assure him that both reviews will be able to go wherever they need to. I hope that he agrees with me that transparency is the best disinfectant in this case."