Why wasn't mother warned of paedophile?

It was a clear sunny day when I met Suzie in a park next to the River Thames.

Mothers and young children were feeding bread to squawking ducks by the riverbank, but Suzie was anxious and emotional.

She cried as she told me her story, but it's clear she has turned the appalling situation she was handed into a clear-sighted fight for justice. And now she wants others to learn from her experience.

Her nightmare started when she answered an advert in a shop window to help care for two disabled children.

What she didn't know was that the man advertising for a carer, the children's father, David Cullen, was on the Sex Offenders' Register.

Image caption David Cullen has been jailed for life

He was supposed to be actively monitored by Oxfordshire social services and Thames Valley Police. And despite that he was able to abuse her young son 25 times in six months.

"It was all because one of his daughters said her dad didn't cook curries" Suzie explained. "I offered to make them one. When I brought it around my son was with me and Cullen was obviously interested in him."

As part of his conviction for sex offences 10 years earlier Cullen was on a Multi Agency Protection Programme. Police and social workers regularly came to the house.

Internally they raised concerns about his new carer and her young family. But Suzie insists they were not made clear to her.

"A police inspector rang me, but just asked me if I was aware of Cullen's previous convictions. I said yes. Cullen had told me he'd 'done time' - but for theft"

Just the memory of that phone call brings Suzie to tears. "Why just phone me? Why didn't they call round? They were watching him, and knew where I lived. I would never have taken my son there again.

"Later, they told me they knew he had lied to parents. If you knew he was lying and you had all this information on this man that I clearly knew nothing about then why did you not come and discuss this with me?

"They told me he had human rights. And I said what about my human rights, what about my son's human rights. I had the right to protect my son. And they failed that - why does his human rights come above any other child?

Image caption "Suzie" whose son was abused had to talk to me anonymously

David Cullen was jailed for life after admitting offences against Suzie's son and eight others.

It's a shocking story. Suzie has spent years rebuilding her life, and her son's. And she says she could accept that mistakes were made and move on, if she felt lessons had been learned.

She's coming forward to talk now after listening to the harrowing stories from Rotherham and of mothers in Oxford whose daughters were raped by a gang of Asian men. Mothers who grew desperate dealing with the same police and social services departments. And Suzie questions whether even now there is insufficient will at the top of Thames Valley Police to put their house in order.

Oxfordshire Social Services and Thames Valley Police say they are the best placed to learn from their mistakes from the past - not just the management of sex offenders and cases involving them but also the culture around what is right and wrong.

Warning call

Even now though in Suzie's case social services deny they failed to pass on warnings. Thames Valley Police said: "We did raise our concerns and make disclosures to warn parents and guardians of the risks associated with allowing Cullen access to their children.

"The legislation around third-party disclosures is now even stronger after Section 140 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 introduced a legal presumption that a disclosure will be made where it is necessary to do so to protect a child from serious harm, which has given our officers a more clear positive framework to make disclosures to third parties to safeguard children."

Oxfordshire Social Services said: "This was a very complex case and we cannot go in to detail due to client confidentiality. The council would always make strenuous attempts, alongside other agencies, to protect a child from individuals who it is thought would pose a danger to them."

In 2009 a serious case review into Cullen's case has clear criticisms of the Oxfordshire agencies for failing to share information, sometimes not attending case conferences, being over-dependent on expert opinions, and not responding to changing circumstances.

Recommendations were made for improvements, but Suzie says the culture within the organisations hasn't changed.

And in a foretaste of last week's Bullfinch serious case review the woman's MP claims he had veiled threats from Thames Valley police officers when he tried to raise questions about the case in parliament.

The Conservative MP for Reading East Rob Wilson, who is now a minister, says he was shocked at the tone of the phone calls.

"They said things like 'really Mr Wilson? So early on in your Parliamentary career? Do you want to make an error about getting involved in raising this issue? There may be more to this than meets the eye. You could be getting into a very difficult situation'.

"There were all sorts of darkly veiled threats if I went head-to-head and toe-to-toe with Thames Valley Police. I had phone calls from at least two members of Thames Valley Police who rang me up directly about this and tried to stop me raising this matter in parliament even though it was quite clearly the right thing to do."

Mr Wilson says one of those who tried to stop him raising the treatment of David Cullen was the current Chief Constable Sara Thornton, and the MP questions whether sufficient action has been taken within the force.

Image caption MP Rob Wilson says he was threatened

"I just wonder whether there is something systemic within the police, that where difficult, very trying types of personal cases are involved they don't really want to get involved. I question whether there is a real appetite to get involved with those difficult cases."

Sarah Thornton would not respond to requests to comment from the BBC. But a press officer told us that "On 8 November 2008 a Detective Chief Inspector contacted Rob Wilson MP to provide him with a background briefing to the case."

Watching the coverage of recent inquiries into Oxfordshire Social Services has re-opened painful wounds for Suzie. But she says she wants more questions asked.

"They're not transparent. They're never going to win the trust of the public or the parents unless they start putting their hands up when they've made mistakes and be very honest with the parents about that."

Most importantly she wants to know who will take the blame for failing to protect Oxfordshire children, even from convicted paedophiles.