LIKE MANY OF YOU, I have been horrified by the news dominating national headlines over the past week. On Friday 18th August, Lucy Letby was found guilty of murdering seven babies and the attempted murder of six babies. The following Monday, she was sentenced to 14 whole- life sentences, meaning she will spend the rest of her natural life behind bars.
The families at the heart of this case have shown incredible levels of resilience and dignity throughout. Hearing their statements on Monday served as a reminder that despite the sentence being delivered and calls for a public inquiry dominating headlines, it is the families who are suffering unimaginable pain that should be in our thoughts.
An attempt on a child’s life is one of the most depraved acts a person can commit, and the death of a child is the hardest burden to bear. Along with our local community, I stand with the families during these dark times.
Cheshire Police have supported the families tremendously throughout their investigation and the trial period. I pay tribute to the officers who have investigated this highly complex case over the past six years.
Many of you may have seen in the news that there is much discussion about launching a public inquiry into the wider circumstances surrounding Letby’s crimes. Following the verdict, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling for a full public inquiry. I welcomed the Government’s swift response, announcing a non-statutory independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the horrific acts.
At the time of writing, the Government has launched a non-statutory inquiry – I do not believe this goes far enough. A non-statutory inquiry does not carry the legal powers to compel witnesses to either give evidence under oath or submit evidence to the inquiry’s investigation. There needs to be an inquiry with powers to match the gravity of the crimes committed – which is why I have written to the Prime Minister calling for him to put the inquiry onto a statutory footing.
For many of us, the Countess of Chester Hospital is important. I have received treatment there, it’s where my three children were born and, where, until 2012, I served as a non-executive director. It is essential for the families affected, hospital staff, and the wider community, to receive answers and assurances from the hospital.
As we all come to terms with the outcome of the trial, it is important to know support is available for anyone who wishes to contact the hospital or their Member of Parliament. If you would like to contact me, please either call my office on 01244 343 229 or email at email@example.com
Finally, I want to pay tribute to Mark Dowling, the Chester Standard reporter who has covered the investigation and trial throughout. His reporting has been informative, balanced and compassionate. We are fortunate to have a journalist of Mark’s quality providing us with our daily news.