Birmingham City Council, criticised over the death from starvation of a seven-year-old girl, has been accused of "casting around for scapegoats" after it revealed that six social workers had been sacked.

The frontline workers were dismissed over the past year for not doing their jobs properly at Birmingham City Council, which is taking part in a serious case review into the death of Khyra Ishaq.

Khyra died in 2008 when her body succumbed to an infection after months of starvation at her home in Handsworth. Her mother and stepfather were both jailed last week for her manslaughter.

Colin Tucker, director of children's social care at the council, said the sacked staff showed "no sign whatsoever" of meeting expected standards.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: "They did not adhere to standards and expectations that we laid down. They showed no sign whatsoever that they were keen to do so, so we dismissed them."

The authority said the dismissals were not directly related to Khyra's death, which followed several attempts by social workers to visit her after she was removed from school in December 2007. But public sector union Unison branded Mr Tucker's claims "misleading and irresponsible" and warned that they would fuel an "exodus" of social workers from the council.

Tony Rabaiotti, the union's Regional Head of Local Government, said: "Mr Tucker should think more carefully before he opens his mouth and makes misleading and irresponsible claims.

"None of the social workers he claims he has sacked had anything to do with child care, let alone the tragic case of Khyra Ishaq. Colin Tucker and the council should stop casting around for scapegoats and take action now."

Khyra's mother, Angela Gordon, was jailed last week for 15 years over her death, while her former partner Junaid Abuhamza was jailed indefinitely with a minimum term of seven-and-a-half years.

In separate court proceedings relating to family matters, judge Mrs Justice King said "in all probability" Khyra would not have died had there been "an adequate initial assessment and proper adherence by the educational welfare services to its guidance".

A serious case review into Khyra's death is still being conducted by the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board. A summary of its findings is expected to be published soon.