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Official faces calls to quit over starvation death girl

A senior council official faced calls to quit last night after claims a seven-year-old girl who starved to death could have been saved.

Tony Howell, Birmingham City Council's strategic director for children, young people and families, rejected calls for his resignation after Khyra Ishaq's mother and stepfather were cleared of murder but convicted of her manslaughter.

While Mr Howell declined to comment in detail on the authority's handling of the case, it emerged that a High Court judge concluded last March that Khyra would probably not have died if there had been “an adequate initial assessment and proper adherence by the educational welfare services to its guidance”.

The ruling of Mrs Justice King was released after prosecutors accepted Angela Gordon's defence of diminished responsibility.

Gordon, who admitted the manslaughter of Khyra two weeks ago, was formally found not guilty of murder by jurors at Birmingham Crown Court on the orders of trial judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans. The decision by the Crown to accept Gordon's plea to the lesser charge came after she admitted five counts of child cruelty and psychiatrists agreed that she was suffering from severe depression when Khyra died at her home in Handsworth, Birmingham, in May 2008.

In her ruling of March last year, relating to care proceedings, Mrs Justice King said: “It is beyond belief that, in 2008, in a bustling, energetic and modern city like Birmingham, a child of seven was withdrawn from school and thereafter kept in squalid conditions for a period of five months before finally dying of starvation.”

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