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Editor slams council’s ‘appalling’ behaviour over case he investigated

Neil SpeightAn editor has hit out at a council which behaved “appallingly” over a matter which he and a late colleague investigated.

Neil Speight, who edits Thurrock Nub News, has criticised Thurrock Council after the publication of a serious case review for which he had campaigned into the death of a toddler who had been in the care of the authority’s social service department.

The review highlighted what Nub News called “a series of significant failings” into the child’s death, but stopped short of allocating responsibility for the tragedy.

An investigation, which was run by Neil and his late colleague Andy Lever for the title’s predecessor the Thurrock Independent, prompted the council to complain unsuccessfully to the Independent Press Standards Organisation about their coverage.

Neil, pictured, had now publicly criticised the council following the review’s publication.

In a statement, he said: “Thurrock Council has acted appallingly in this matter from day one. They have denied responsibility, they have denied fault and they have sought to condemn myself, colleagues including the late Andy Lever and the media.

“The council’s own staff felt so disgusted and upset by the way the council tried to cover up this matter they sent us documentation and leaked information apportioning blame. I believe their actions have been vindicated.

“Without the intervention of the Thurrock Independent, myself and Andy Lever I have no doubt that this matter – which shows serious failings in Thurrock Council’s system, would have been brushed under the carpet.”

The council declined to respond directly to Neil’s statement when approached by HTFP.

In a general statement about the review, Cllr Gledhill said: “Any child death is a tragedy and a deep loss for the family to which we continue to offer our condolences.

“The SCR, based on the coroner’s report, concluded that the death was from ‘unrelated and unknown causes’, therefore no organisation or individual is responsible for the tragic death.

“Post-mortem investigations did not establish a cause of death, which was recorded as unascertained at inquest – this can also be known as unexplained death such as ‘cot death’ or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.”