An independent inquiry has found that managers and social workers from a local council were so concerned about not appearing homophobic that they overlooked warning signs about two gay foster parents who were sexually abusing children.

Ian Wathey, 40, and Craig Faunch, 32, from Pontefract in West Yorkshire, were jailed in June 2006 for five and six years respectively for abusing four boys in their care.

The report, published yesterday, made 41 recommendations and said that both Wakefield council staff and the fostering panel were to blame for not protecting children.

“It is clear that these foster carers proved challenging to a number of professional staff, some of whom were ill-equipped for the task of working with them and supervising them,” said investigators, led by a former head of Surrey social services.

“The fear of being discriminatory led them to fail to discriminate between the appropriate and abusive.”

Social services managers ignored guidance on fostering placements and child protection, the inquiry found.

At their trial at Leeds Crown Court last year it was revealed that suspicions about Wathey and Faunch’s suitability as foster parents had been aroused after a picture of one of their victims urinating was discovered.

The picture was dismissed by social workers as “silly.”

The judge said it was “incredible” that the police were not informed earlier.

The couple were approved by social services in 2003, but used their position within months to video and perform sex acts on troubled boys, the jury heard.

Police intervened when a boy complained about Mr Faunch abusing him three times.

A total of 18 children were placed with Wathey and Faunch between 2003 and 2005, in spite of allegations about the first two children they fostered.

“People have let political correctness get in the way of good practice and common sense and children have been abused. It is totally inexcusable,” Michele Elliott, director of charity Kidscape, told The Sun.

The head of family services at Wakefield council welcomed the report and said its recommendations would be used to improve fostering services.