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The British government yesterday conceded to the European court of human rights that four children had suffered 'ho...
The British government yesterday conceded to the European court of human rights that four children had suffered 'horrific' parental neglect for years while Bedfordshire CC social services took no action to remove them.

The Guardian (p8) reports that the government admitted it had breached article three of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees protection from 'torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment', because the council knew of the children's plight for nearly five years before it took them into care.

From November 1987 relatives, neighbours, police, the family GP, the NSPCC, a headteacher, a social worker and a health visitor told social services the children were at risk. Their father twice asked the council to take them into care and put them up for adoption.

But it was only in June 1992, after their mother threatened to batter them unless they were taken away, that the council put them of the child protection register and placed them with foster parents.

Eight years after they were taken into care, the boys, now aged 16 and 14, are severely psychologically disturbed and may never be able to work.

Yesterday 17 judges heard the children's claims that they were denied a fair hearing when their negligence action against Bedfordshire was thrown out by the house of lords on grounds of public policy.

The law lords held in June 1995 it would not 'be fair, just and reasonable' if councils could be sued for failures in carrying out childcare duties. Judgment will be given later.

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