Arthur Labinjo-Hughes: Council boss on six-figure salary 'retired and loving it' three months after six-year-old's murder

A report said services for children in the area had 'seriously declined' due to 'poor leadership' under her tenure


A council boss in Solihull has been criticised after a report said services for children in the area had “seriously declined” due to “poor leadership”.

It comes in the wake of the tragic murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was tortured and killed during lockdown by his stepmother Emma Tustin and father Thomas Hughes.

Solihull’s Director of Children’s Services, Louise Rees, left her post before his parents went on trial, bragging on social media that she is now “retired and loving it” – three months after the six-year-old boy was killed.

The 60-year-old reportedly earnt somewhere in the region of £120,000-to-£140,000 as a director within Stoke-on-Trent City Council, starting the role in March 2019. Her appointment came weeks after inspectors found “widespread and serious failings” within the children’s services department at the council.

During her time in the job, an Ofsted report said services for children in Stoke had “seriously declined” due to “poor leadership, management oversight and an absence of performance inspection”, with children “not being protected”.

It emerged at trial that Arthur had been seen by social workers just two months before his death, after concerns were raised by his paternal grandmother Joanne Hughes, but they concluded there were “no safeguarding concerns”.

In her victim impact statement, which she read in court ahead of the sentencing, Ms Hughes said Arthur, as a “happy, contented, thriving seven-year-old” would “be alive today” had her son not met Tustin.

The secondary school teacher added: “It is also clear that Arthur was failed by the very authorities that we, as a society, are led to believe are there to ensure the safety of everyone.”

An independent review is now under way into the authorities’ contact with Arthur before his death.

That work will include examining other potential missed opportunities to intervene, including an anonymous call Tustin’s own stepfather John Dutton claimed in court to have made to social services, and contact with the police from Hughes’ brother about Arthur’s bruises.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) is set to publish a report into West Midlands Police’s contact with the case, in due course, but has said it “found no indication any individual behaved in a manner that justified disciplinary proceedings”.

Speaking to GB News, former Children and Families Minister Tim Loughton said the case was “not just murder. It’s the torture and abuse inflicted systematically on that poor child over an extended time.

“There are many questions to be asked… Why did the system allow this vulnerable six-year-old to die in the terrible way that he did?”