Lucy Letby inquiry given greater powers to compel witnesses to give evidence

The inquiry looking into how Lucy Letby was able to murder seven babies will be given greater powers to call up witnesses.

It comes amid criticism from families of victims that the independent inquiry would not go far enough.

The review was ordered after Letby’s guilty verdict but it initially was not given full statutory powers.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he had listened to the families.

He has decided a statutory inquiry was the best way forward and ‘respects the wishes’ of the families.

Mr Barclay said the key advantage was the power of compulsion.

‘My priority is to ensure the families get the answers they deserve and people are held to account where they need to be,’ he added.

Ministers have already announced that a judge will oversee the inquiry – with a name expected in the coming days.

Richard Scorer, a lawyer who is representing two of the families, said he thought they would be pleased.

‘We’ve always said we wanted an effective inquiry – an inquiry capable of compelling people to give evidence under oath and to compel the production of documents.

‘It looks like we’ve got the statutory inquiry we need and that is really important,’ he added.

The move to make the inquiry statutory is being seen as crucial to gather evidence about exactly what happened and what lessons should be learnt.

Dr Ravi Jayraram, one of the doctors who helped catch Letby by raising concerns to senior managers, told ITV News: ‘I don’t understand why, right at the start, there was a rush to say it was going to be non-statutory.

‘I’m glad this is going to be a public inquiry because no stone will be left unturned and questions that need to be asked will be asked and the answers will be found – unlike in a non statutory inquiry where questions that will cause difficult or embarrassing answers won’t get asked.’

The news comes after the Ministry of Justice proposed new laws to try and force criminals to attend sentencing hearings.

Prison officer will be allowed to use ‘reasonable force’ to move defendants into the dock under new legislation which will be introduced in October.

Judges will also be able to add on an extra two years to the sentences of those who do not show up.

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