The families of babies killed and harmed by Lucy Letby have welcomed the launch of a corporate manslaughter investigation at the hospital where she carried out her crimes, saying there must be “no hiding place” for those responsible for institutional failings.
Cheshire Constabulary said on Wednesday it was investigating the Countess of Chester Hospital (COCH) senior leadership and decision making to determine whether any criminality had occurred.
The announcement has been welcomed by parents of the babies targeted by Letby when she worked at the hospital’s neonatal unit between 2015 and 2016.
Letby was sentenced to a whole life order after jurors at Manchester Crown Court in August found her guilty of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others.
Last month, she formally lodged an appeal against her convictions at the Court of Appeal.
Tamlin Bolton, a specialist medical negligence lawyer and senior associate solicitor at Switalskis who is representing the families of seven babies who were victims of Letby, said: “This is significant news. 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.”
Ms Bolton added: “Whilst 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.”
The parents of twin babies Letby was found guilty of harming said: “We welcome the news this morning of corporate manslaughter charges against COCH. There must be something in it for police to investigate. Hopefully now there will be no hiding place for the senior management of that trust.
“There is definitely more to this. People who aided Letby to carry on her deeds need to be brought to justice. I’m sure the police will do this during their investigation and I’m grateful to them for all the dedicated support they have given us.”
Announcing the investigation Detective Superintendent Simon Blackwell, strategic lead for Operation Hummingbird, a continuing police 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.”
Last month Letby was told she will face a retrial next year on one charge of attempting to kill a baby girl in February 2016.
Mr Justice Goss, the judge in the original trial, set a provisional date of June 10 2024 for the retrial.
Ben Myers KC, defending Letby, told the court she “maintained she was innocent”.
Letby was arrested at her home in Chester in July 2018 and charged in November that year.
Her original trial began on October 4 2022 with the jury reaching its final deliberations on August 18 2023 and she was sentenced on August 21.
A court order prohibits reporting of the identities of the surviving and dead children who were the subject of the allegations.
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