Lucy Letby: Government confirms it is launching statutory inquiry killer nurse

The government has confirmed it is launching a statutory inquiry into the case of killer nurse Lucy Letby.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the inquiry will "examine the cases' wider circumstances", including "the conduct of the wider NHS and its regulators".

In a statement to the House of Commons on Monday, the minister also confirmed the inquiry will be led by the experienced Court of Appeal judge, Lady Justice Kathryn Thirlwall.

Lawyers representing the families of some of Letby's victims said they were "delighted" that they would be working with Lady Justice Thirlwall to "help shape the terms of reference of the inquiry".

Letby, 33, was convicted last month of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six more while working as a neonatal nurse.

She was sentenced to 14 whole-life orders - meaning she will never be released from prison.

Following Letby's sentencing, the government announced an inquiry.

Ministers previously said "after careful consideration", a non-statutory inquiry into the circumstances at the Countess of Chester Hospital "was found to be the most appropriate option".

However, Mr Barclay said last Thursday that the inquiry would be given statutory powers - allowing it to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath.

He confirmed this in a statement to the House of Commons on Monday.

In the statement, the minister said: "I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and suffering these families went through.

"And I know, from my conversations with them last week, that the trial brought these emotions back to the surface.

"Concerningly, they were exacerbated by the fact the families discovered new information about these events, concerning their children, during the course of the trial.

"We have a duty to get them the answers they deserve, to hold people to account, and to make sure that lessons are learnt.

"That is why on the day of conviction I ordered an independent inquiry into the events at the Countess of Chester Hospital, making clear the victim's families would shape this."

Mr Barclay said the families had "made it clear" to him that they wanted a statutory inquiry, with the "power to compel witnesses" to give evidence under oath.

"That is why I'm confirming this to the House today," he added.

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Mr Barclay said part of the inquiry would look into the response by the trust running the Countess of Chester Hospital to clinicians who raised concerns about Letby's conduct before her arrest.

Tamlin Bolton, solicitor at Switalskis Solicitors, a law firm representing the families of seven of Letby's victims, said: "It is fair to say that the horrific crimes committed by Letby have led to many more questions requiring vital answers so that the families involved can begin to process the events that have taken place.

"Given what is in the public domain so far around the circumstances of Letby's crimes, it is imperative that the families affected are heard if they are to have the highest confidence in the process.

"We can only hope that this statutory public inquiry will result in robust systems being implemented to ensure nothing like this can happen again and to restore any kind of trust in the NHS."