THE MAN at the helm of children's services in Southampton when four young boys died within months of each other has been gagged from revealing what went wrong, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Clive Webster was the boss of those charged with ensuring child safety at Southampton City Council in 2011, earning a salary of £119,000 for the responsibility he held.

Now, four years on - and after Mr Webster was made redundant and walked away with a payout of almost £100,000 - a damning report has heaped blame on “serious systemic and individual failings” and a completely “unstable” management of his department.

But as pressure grows for answers concerning the deaths of four children that year - Blake Fowler, Bradley and Jayden Adams and baby Nico Maynard - Mr Webster has revealed he must stay silent.

Daily Echo:

As reported by the Daily Echo last week, a report published into the death of seven-year-old Blake Fowler (pictured above) revealed 18 separate occasions where authorities could have, but failed to act.

The Serious Case Review into his death was highly critical of the children's services department which, it concluded, missed numerous opportunities to intervene during years of 'explicit and repeated' abuse suffered by the schoolboy, before he died in 2011.

It went on to describe management as unstable, that they were relying too much on agency staff and students and that there were “serious systemic and individual failings”.

The damning indictment followed hot on the heels of an Ofsted inspection in 2011 that also judged the department to be inadequate.

In 2013, amid mammoth cut backs at the council, Mr Webster was made redundant and left his post with a payout of £94,234.

His job was later merged to form the “director of people” portfolio - a position now held by Alison Elliott, who has apologised for the department at the time but cannot shed light on what went wrong.

Mr Webster has since taken up a new role as Executive of the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership.

But when we contacted him and asked him for an interview to explain the repeated failings of his department that had been identified and tell us what and why it was happening, Mr Webster said he could not help.

In his reply Mr Webster said while he “understood” us contacting him he was unable to respond to our questions as he was "party to a confidentiality agreement with Southampton City Council" and as a result had passed our enquiry on to them.

Following the publication of the report Ms Elliott issued a full apology for the failings of the department at the time describing some of the conduct of one social worker as "unjustifiable."

Daily Echo:

THEY are the little boys whose faces are a stark reminder of epic failings and a catalogue of missed opportunity which may have seen them alive today.

Brothers Bradley and Jayden Adams (pictured above) and schoolboy Blake Fowler all died in 2011, their short lives in part simply a misery.

Each of them, as well as a fourth child - three month old Nico Maynard - has seen their parents central to police probes. But nobody has or will be charged over their deaths.

Inquests also lifted the lid on a catalogue of failings and missed chances when they were held in 2013, while serious case reviews have also shed some light on a disturbing picture in Southampton - with a social services department in “disarray”.

The most recent was last week's damning report following the death of Blake Fowler that documented 18 occasions where the authorities, including police, health workers and teachers as well as social workers, could and should have intervened to save Blake from further harm.

The youngster was regularly seen with bruises, was admitted to hospital for his injuries. On one occasion workmen were so appalled with Blake's appearance they even contacted the NSPCC.

The report also described how he was exposed to porn films and given vodka to drink.

Daily Echo:

Blake died in December 2011 of serious head injuries whilst in the care of his step father Peter Meek who, together with the child's mother Sarah Spacagna, has now gone into hiding amid claims they have been threatened.

Brothers Jayden and Bradley Adams were just four and two years old when they died just months apart at the start of 2011.

Their mother Shelly Adams had begged social workers to take her children away from her because she couldn't cope, an inquest into their deaths later heard.

Ms Adams was arrested and quizzed on suspicion of their murder but after a lengthy investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that no charges would be brought against her.

Nico Maynard was a baby of just three months when he died, having suffered a fractured skull and leg. His dad Hamid Baldelli was arrested on suspicion of murder but also not charged.

In each of the cases except for the death of Nico, Southampton's social services team have been found to have failed.

Additional reporting by Jenny Makin.