Lucy Letby inquiry given powers to compel NHS bosses to give evidence amid fears probe into serial killer nurse’s crimes would not go far enough
- The inquiry into the serial child killer has been upgraded to become statutory
The inquiry into serial child killer Lucy Letby‘s crimes will become statutory, the Health Secretary has announced.
This means it will have powers to compel NHS bosses accused of negligence to give evidence.
The decision comes after Letby, 33, was sentenced to a whole-life term for murdering seven babies and trying to kill six more.
It had previously announced a non-statutory inquiry but ministers have upgraded the inquiry after backlash from the victim’s families argued that an independent inquiry would not go far enough.
They said that hospital bosses accused of covering up Letby’s crimes could avoid questioning.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he had listened to the families and believed a statutory inquiry was the best way to ‘respect the wishes’ of those affected.
He said: ‘The crimes committed by Lucy Letby are truly harrowing, and my thoughts remain with the families of her victims.
‘Following her conviction, we announced an inquiry and said the nature of this inquiry would be shaped by the families.
‘Having now discussed this with the families, we will launch a full statutory inquiry giving it the legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.
‘This statutory public inquiry will aim to give the families the answers they need and ensure lessons are learned.’
Richard Scorer, a lawyer representing two of the affected families said: ‘We welcome the Government’s announcement that the Lucy Letby inquiry will be upgraded to a statutory inquiry. It is essential that the chair has the powers to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath, and to force disclosure of documents.
‘Without these powers, the inquiry would have been ineffectual and our clients would have been deprived of the answers they need and deserve.
‘This inquiry is essential for the parents of Letby’s victims, but it is also important for all of us. We all need to be sure that the NHS delivers the best possible care, that hospital management is accountable and responsive to concerns, and that whistleblowers are treated fairly.
‘We cannot let what occurred at the Countess of Chester Hospital to ever happen again. This inquiry must lay bare the facts of what happened but it must also be the start of much needed change’.
Between 2015 and 2016 when Letby murdered seven babies – and attempted to murder seven more –