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An Official Investigation Has Poked Holes In The Media's Reporting Of The "Muslim Foster Care Scandal"

From pasta carbonara to missing crucifixes, a council investigation pokes holes in media reporting about a five-year-old girl living with Muslim foster carers.

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An official council investigation into a "white Christian" five-year-old girl who was placed with Muslim foster carers has rejected several of the more sensational allegations reported during the nationwide scandal into the case.

Back in August, The Times reported on a girl who'd been placed with Muslim carers in the London borough of Tower Hamlets this year, under the headline "Christian child forced into Muslim foster care".

The Times investigation ran allegations aired by the girl's mother which had emerged during a family court dispute, including that the girl was banned from eating pork, had her crucifix removed and had now expressed a hatred of Christmas and Easter.

The story was picked up and splashed across the UK's tabloid media, including The Sun, The Daily Mail and Breitbart, which all reprinted the claims and led to a nationwide debate about the issue of Muslim foster carers.

On Wednesday night, Tower Hamlets published its own investigation into the foster situation of the five-year-old girl conducted by a senior social worker, which poked holes in the reporting of the case.

On the allegation that the girl had her crucifix removed, the Tower Hamlets investigation found she had actually two necklaces, one of which was in the girl's bedroom of her maternal grandmother.

According to the official report, the other crucifix was given to the girl by her mother, but due to the size and potential value of the jewelry, it was taken by a social worker and given to the maternal grandmother for safe keeping.

Another allegation printed by the Times and picked up in subsequent media reports, was that the Muslim foster carers wouldn't allow the girl to eat her "favourite Italian meal" of pasta carbonara because it contained pork.

The Tower Hamlets investigation rejected the claim that the Muslim carers had barred the girl from eating the pasta carbonara, finding "there had been no rejection of food brought for the child by the mother for religious reasons".

The report was also seemingly referring to the specific case of the pasta carbonara when it found that on one occasion some food was "not put into a secure container" and therefore had been "spilled onto the buggy" while it was being taken home.

Media reports also seized on the allegation that the five-year-old girl had told her mother "Christmas and Easter are stupid", with the Daily Mail splashing the detail in a Facebook post and the Daily Express running it in a headline.

The social worker running the investigation spoke to the girl who according to the report had actually "expressed no negative views about Christmas" and "expressed excitement and described having an easter egg hunt" at the Muslim foster carers home.

The investigation also found: "The allegation that the child was distressed as the foster carer spoke only in Arabic was found by Tower Hamlets not to be correct."

"Although the mother disputes the findings, the Local Authority is satisfied that at all times the foster carers provided warm and appropriate care to the child," concluded the report.

"The Local Authority does not accept the allegations as made in the National press for the reasons set out (in the report)."

BuzzFeed News has contacted The Times to ask whether it stands by the original August story in light of the Tower Hamlets investigation.

Mark Di Stefano is a Media and Politics Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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