Saturday August 10, 2019
Members of the UK Somalian community have called for an investigation into the death of Shukri Abdi. Photograph: Maureen McLean/Alamy Stock Photo
The family of 12-year-old refugee Shukri Abdi
who drowned in June have branded an internal investigation into claims of
bullying before her death “a whitewash”.
Shukri was found drowned in the River Irwell
in the Lancashire town of Bury on 28 June. She came to the UK from Somalia last
year with her mother and siblings after fleeing conflict.
Members of Shukri’s family claim she was badly
bullied at the school, Broad Oak sports college in Bury, for more than a year
but that the school failed to respond to her family’s concerns. They accuse the
school of failing to take the bullying complaints seriously.
The school agreed to conduct an internal
investigation into the claims and on Friday afternoon called the family to Bury
police station to provide them with the conclusions.
Shukri’s uncle Mustaf Omar, 29, said: “We are
not happy with the lack of information in the report. It’s a whitewash. We
hoped the school would interview Shukri’s mother for this report and other
parents whose children might have experienced bullying but they weren’t
“It was very insulting that we were asked to
go to the police station to receive this school report. We asked for an
interpreter for Shukri’s mum, Zamzam, but there was no interpreter there.
Zamzam just sat there crying. In the end we walked out of the police station in
protest about the way we were treated.”
The family’s lawyer, Attiq Malik, of Liberty
Law Solicitors said: “The family are very unhappy with this report. Despite
assurances from the school that a full review would be carried out this has not
been done. The family have lost trust in the police and now they have lost
trust in the school too. The family is turning to the community for help. We
hope other members of the community who have evidence relating to this case
will now come forward.”
Shukri’s mother, Zamzam Arab Ture, is calling
on the school to be investigated for a potential breach of its duty of care
She said: “If the rights we came to this
country for exist I want something done.”
Friday’s report was the result of a review of
the school’s anti-bullying policy announced by the headteacher of Broad Oak
sport college, Paul Greenhalgh, in the wake of Shukri’s
The Guardian has seen an account from another
student at the school who is thought to have been a victim of the same kind of
bullying Shukri was subjected to. The girl said her problems had gone on for
more than a year, that she had been grabbed and seriously assaulted by another
pupil and struggled to cope. She said that although she had reported the
bullying to the school nothing had been done and she felt unsupported.
The girl’s mother raised concerns about
bullying at the school with both the school and police but said that neither
had responded appropriately. The mother added that some pupils who were victims
of bullying were too scared of reprisals from the bullies to speak out about
Saynab Hareed, Shukri’s aunt, described the
difficulties Shukri had had fitting in and said that teachers would sometimes
bring her home themselves from school amid fears for her safety. “She had been
telling us of the bullying for months,” said Hareed. She added that things
became so bad at one point that a teacher decided to remove her from school in
a desperate attempt to protect her.
Shukri’s family said she helped look after her
four younger siblings, supported her mother and dreamed of becoming a doctor.
An investigation has been launched into
whether police treated Shukri’s family “less favourably” because of their
On Thursday, the Independent
Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced it had begun an
investigation after a complaint about police actions following Shukri’s death.
An IOPC spokeswoman said: “In July the force
referred a complaint they had received about their actions; it alleged that
officers failed to conduct an effective investigation and prematurely concluded
that the death of Shukri Abdi was not suspicious.”
A separate investigation into her death by
Greater Manchester police was continuing.
A GMP spokeswoman said: “We will liaise with
the IOPC to ensure that they are provided with any information they need. It
would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time.”
A public meeting has been organised for
Saturday by the Justice4Shukri Campaign. Campaigners are
calling for an investigation into the numerous complaints of bullying at the
school, actions to prevent further tragedies from happening and transparency
around the investigation into Shukri’s death.
Caroline Bailey, a teacher at Broad Oaks
School, took her own life in September 2012 following claims of bullying there.
The school has been approached for comment.