One of UK's most senior judges to lead Lucy Letby inquiry

Lady Justice Thirlwall will work alongside the victims' families on the terms of reference.

One of the country's most senior judges will lead the inquiry into serial killer nurse Lucy Letby's crimes, the Health Secretary has said.

Steve Barclay told MPs Lady Justice Thirlwall has "many years of experience" as a senior judge and senior barrister.

The inquiry will have legal powers to compel witnesses, including former and current staff of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where Letby worked and killed, to provide evidence.

Letby, 33, was last month sentenced to a whole-life term for murdering seven babies and trying to murder six more.

Multiple paediatricians at the Countess of Chester hospital raised concerns about Letby before the police were involved. Credit: PA Images

Steve Barclay told the House: ''I cannot begin to imagine the hurt and suffering these families went through.

'We have a duty to get them the answers they deserve. To hold people to account. To make sure lessons are learned. 

"It was clear their wishes were for a statutory inquiry - with power to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath."

Lady Justice Thirlwall

The victims' families will work with Justice Thirlwall on the terms of reference and the inquiry will take place in phases, according to today's announcement.

The Health Secretary also revealed that he has asked NHS England to revisit recommendations made in the Kark Review and also to strengthen the Freedom to Speak Up whistleblowing policy. 

He added: "Nothing can come close to righting the wrongs of the past, but I hope [the inquiry] will go at least some way to giving the victims the answers they deserve [...] to make sure lessons are learned from this horrendous case." 

In response, the Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said he welcomed the appointment of Justice Thirlwall, and paid tribute to the 'heroes of this story' - the consultants that blew the whistle and showed 'persistent courage'.

Streeting said the refusal of managers at the Countess of Chester to listen to their concerns was 'unforgivable', adding: "There must be no hiding place for those responsible for such serious shortcomings."

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