Baby P - The blame factor
Confronted by the appalling suffering and tragic death of Baby P, our first response is shock. Anger quickly follows.Then the questions. How did it happen? Who is to blame? Why wasn't it prevented?
The dehumanised computer images of the anonymous tortured infant somehow serve to heighten the clamour for quick answers to these important questions.
But there are some who worry that, if we are not careful, the process becomes as much about seeking vengeance as understanding. We need someone to blame.
Press calls for "heads to roll" reflect public demands for swift justice to be meted out. The horrors of the last few days need a lightning rod before the matter can be put to one side, it seems.
Yesterday's apology from Haringey council was designed to offer something to the angry mob.
It was very different from previous statements which had defended Haringey's "three-star" services.
There was recognition of errors having been made, of their responsibility to protect the little boy and their failure. And they said "sorry" - still not the apology TO the father of Baby P that some had demanded - but the first expression of deep sorrow nevertheless.
But now the focus has shifted to politicians. Should government ministers have done more to save the life of Baby P?
It has emerged that a social worker from Haringey wrote to the then Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt in February 2007 warning that "child abuse victims were not being protected" in the borough. Nevres Kemal is no longer employed by Haringey and cannot speak about the events because of a court injunction.
It is a situation that prompted an immediate attack from the Conservative Children's spokesman Michael Gove.
"All that appears to have happened is the sacking and gagging of the whistleblower and bureaucratic buck-passing in Whitehall. We need a proper explanation of what steps were taken at the highest level to investigate the concerns raised."
Since that statement earlier today, the plot has thickened.
It now appears that the warning from the social worker was passed on to the body responsible for inspecting child protection services in England at that time - the Commission for Social Care Inspection.
But it was a quango in flux. Within weeks it would lose its responsibility for checking children in England were safe.That power would shift to Ofsted on 1 April 2007.
Despite the distractions of the handover, the organisation says its inspectors "acted upon the information in the letter and investigated Haringey's response to the allegations made".
Well it depends what you mean by "acted".The Commission confirmed to me this afternoon that they did not speak to Ms Kemal after receiving the warning that children in Haringey were in danger, instead, they put her concerns on the agenda of a regular meeting they were having with council officials a few weeks later.
The matter was discussed and the inspectors were "satisife with the assurances" they got from Haringey council. Case, apparently, closed.
Now comes the confusion.
The commission tells me that a "note" of the warning was sent over to Ofsted when they took responsibility for inspecting England's child services in April.
But Ofsted tell me "that letter did not come to us".
At the point of handover, they say, the "government's transition order" meant only matters that were "live on the 1st of April" became their responsibility.
The complaint from the Haringey social workers had been dealt with and "closed" by the Commission. And so, the spokesperson told me, Ofsted was not informed about it.
Where did the warning go?
It may have made no difference to what happened to Baby P. But scrutiny around the case is intense. With four separate investigations under way, one would hope the difficult questions will be answered.
However, government ministers had a duty to ensure that children in England remained protected during the bureaucratic reorganisation. At exactly the time the Commission was handing over responsibility to Ofsted, Baby P was being abused in north London.
Some will suggest the little boy may have slipped through the cracks.
The hunt for someone to blame goes on.