Corporate manslaughter investigation begins at Countess of Chester Hospital after Letby conviction

A hospital where a nurse murdered seven newborn babies and attempted to murder six more is under investigation for corporate manslaughter, police have said.

Lucy Letby, 33, was sentenced to a whole life order after jurors convicted her of the charges at the Countess of Chester Hospital's neonatal unit in 2015 and 2016.

Following the conviction there were calls that hospital executives who failed to act on concerns about the serial killer to be investigated for corporate manslaughter.

Now Cheshire Police has announced it has begun an investigation into the hospital - but is not currently focusing on any individuals.

The investigation will 'consider areas including senior leadership', the force said.

Detective Superintendent Simon Blackwell, who is strategic lead for Operation Hummingbird - the investigation into Letby, said: “Following the lengthy trial, subsequent conviction of Lucy Letby and an assessment by senior investigative officers, I can confirm that Cheshire Constabulary is carrying out an investigation into corporate manslaughter at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

“The investigation will focus on the indictment period of the charges for Lucy Letby, from June 2015 to June 2016, and consider areas including senior leadership and decision making to determine whether any criminality has taken place.

"At this stage we are not investigating any individuals in relation to gross negligence manslaughter.

“The investigation is in the very early stages and we are unable to go into any further details or answer specific questions at this time.

"We recognise that this investigation will have a significant impact on a number of different stakeholders including the families in this case and we are continuing to work alongside and support them during this process.

“You will be notified of any further updates in due course.”

Lucy Letby was jailed for life for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six more Credit: Cheshire Police

Tamlin Bolton, of law firm Switalskis, which represents seven families, said: “This is significant news today. The families we represent have continued to request that senior management at the Countess of Chester Hospital be investigated and/or be part of investigations moving forward.

“We are reassured that some steps are now being taken to consider the actions of management from a criminal perspective.

“It will be for the CPS and the police to determine now if the conduct of the senior management at the Countess of Chester Hospital fell so far below what could reasonably have been expected of them, that their actions caused or contributed to the deaths of those seven children.

“While the news is welcomed, this announcement brings with it fresh anguish for the families as they wait for the conclusion of these further criminal investigations.”

Jane Tomkinson OBE, Acting Chief Executive Officer at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were deeply saddened and appalled at Lucy Letby’s crimes when the verdicts were delivered.

"Following the trial we have always maintained we will be supporting the ongoing investigation by Cheshire Police and will be cooperating fully with the investigation announced today so that we can help get the answers that the families and babies affected by this case rightly deserve.

"Cheshire Police have given us their assurance that they are providing ongoing support to the families, who remain at the forefront of our thoughts and efforts to support this investigation.

"It would not be appropriate for the Trust to make any further comment at this time.”

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) previously said it wanted to pursue a retrial on one of Letby’s outstanding charges - that she attempted to murder a baby girl, known as Child K, in February 2016.

A provisional trial date of 10 June 2024 at the same court has been fixed.

The jury of seven women and four men in Letby’s 10-month trial could not reach verdicts on claims she attempted to murder three baby girls, Child H, Child J and Child K.

Verdicts were also not reached on two counts of attempted murder against Child N, a baby boy, and an allegation she tried to murder another male infant, Child Q.

Letby was found guilty of one count of attempted murder against Child N.

The defendant, from Hereford, denied all the offences and formally lodged an appeal against her convictions at the Court of Appeal last month.

A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children who were the subject of the allegations.