Parents plead to view confidential documents ahead of daughter's inquest

TRagic: Dana Baker.

TRagic: Dana Baker.

First published in News
Last updated
Kidderminster Shuttle: Photograph of the Author by

THE parents of a troubled teenager found hanging from a tree are pleading for a coroner to let them view confidential documents after feeling "let down" by the agencies that cared for her.

Dana Baker's father Trevor and mother Patricia wants Worcestershire coroner Geraint Williams to disclose the sensitive material relating to the former Stourport High School and Sixth Form Centre pupil's contacts with social services and other agencies, so lessons can be learned.

The 16-year-old karate star, who also attended Wolverley CE Secondary School, was found hanging near Kidderminster's Worcester Road island in March 2011, following a troubled history of periods in foster care and of abuse by her karate instructor, Jaspal Riat.

Her parents have now urged Mr Williams through their lawyer to let them see the information from a Serious Case Review (SCR) undertaken by the Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) so they can be sure the right evidence and witnesses would be available at the inquest into their daughter's death.

During a pre-inquest review in Stourport last Friday, it was heard how Dana's family had felt "monumentally let down" by statutory bodies after the confidential documents were not made readily available to Mr Willams.

The coroner had to go to London’s High Court to get the information after the children’s board queried whether it was in the public interest to disclose the highly sensitive material.

The board said disclosure of 10 individual management reviews and six information reports would violate confidentiality and discourage candour and that there was a risk that “interested parties” at the inquest would seek access to at least parts of the material.

Lawyer Nageena Khalique, representing Dana's family, told the pre-inquest that individual management reviews were "extremely important to the relevance of this case".

She added: "Sitting behind me today is Mr Baker and [Dana's] grandmother. These are people which you might readily understand feel monumentally let down by the whole body of statutory agencies.

"It was only through pressure from [Mr Wiliams] that the documentation was disclosed to you through the High Court challenge.

"The family of Dana Baker want to ensure that the proper process has been done - to ensure the right witnesses and the right evidence is being made available to this inquest."

She went on: "If I'm not able to view that document then there's no way that I have in ensuring that a vital witness hasn't been called."

Agencies including Worcestershire County Council, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare Trust, the Childcare Bureau and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust were also represented at the pre-inquest hearing.

All but the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust and North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare told Mr Williams that the documents should not be disclosed amid fears they could end up in the public domain.

Mr Williams said he would revisit some of the case law and re-listen to some of the agencies' submissions before making a decision on whether to disclose the documents. The inquest into Dana's death is scheduled for May.

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