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MP calls for more council transparency in wake of Misty Barnes case
THURROCK MP Jackie Doyle-Price has called on Thurrock Council to be more transparent in the aftermath of the Misty Barnes case.
Last week a Gazette exclusive told how Jack Barnes, 39, and Cheryl Rich, 26, endured the agony of losing their baby to social services.
Jack was accused of being a terrorists, yet nine months later Misty was given back to the couple after the council accepted it has made mistakes.
Ms Doyle-Price said: “Local authorities must be more transparent. They are public servants and need to be accountable for their actions.
“Too often we hear them hiding behind sensitivity and data protection, when they are more than able to deal openly with the public without breaching privacy.
“Personally I think the public would have a lot more confidence in them if they were.”
The MP’s comments come as the council refuse to comment in any detail on the case, but insist its decision to take the baby into care was justified.
The council stepped in a month after Misty was born following concerns for hers and Cheryl’s safety.
In the months that followed, Jack was falsely accused of being a terrorist and an armed robber.
Then last September, a judge ruled Misty should be returned home - and the family should be supervised by social workers.
Ms Doyle-Price added: “I have always backed Thurrock on decisions of this nature as I recognise the difficulties of the job.
“Indeed, Jack and Cheryl will confirm I have had some quite uncomfortable conversations with them. But if I could recognise something wasn't right, why didn’t Thurrock?”
A council spokesman said: “The council is working closely with other interested parties to ensure the detail in the court’s ruling is fully implemented.
“The fact the court decided there was still significant risk of harm to the child and imposed a supervision order means the council regularly works closely with the whole family – and that it will continue to do so in the future.”
Carmel Littleton, Thurrock’s director of social care, said: “The well-being of the child is of paramount importance to the court and to the council.”
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