Newspaper reports about a high-profile fostering case could have very damaging consequences, so says the man tasked with leading a review into the current system.
Over the past week there has been extensive coverage centring on the placement of a five-year-old girl from East London.
It had been suggested that Tower Hamlets Council had placed the youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, with a foster carers who couldn’t be considered an appropriate “cultural match”.
But after the story received widespread attention from papers including The Times and Daily Mail, the local authority suggested that some of the more contentious claims were misleading.
Now Sir Martin Narey, a former Barnado’s boss who was previously named the joint head of an inquiry into foster care provision, warned that the furore could deter people from ethnic minorities offering to be foster carers.
“It’s such a great shame that so much anguish was caused and I would be desperately alarmed if it discourages people from all races to come forward to offer to foster,” said Sir Martin. “It would be disastrous if that happened.”
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme a few days ago, John Briggs, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said that some of the more “sensationalist” elements of the coverage did not tally with the council’s own investigations. He noted that the court-appointed guardian had found that the child “seemed to be in a settled and happy position.”
The Times reporter, Andrew Norfolk, who first broke the story has nonetheless insisted that the claims were based on a report by someone employed at the local authority.