Allitt public inquiry rejected: Parents of nurse's victims lose case

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

RENEWED calls for a public inquiry into how the nurse Beverly Allitt was able to murder and injure children in her care were rejected by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

The court refused to give the victims' families and two hospital staff unions the right to challenge the decision by Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, not to order a public inquiry with full statutory powers to compel attendance of witnesses and production of documents.

Sir Thomas Bingham, Master of the Rolls, said that he had no doubt the inquiry being conducted by Sir Cecil Clothier, a former Ombudsman, would wish to be scrupulously fair.

'The effectiveness of an inquiry of this kind depends not on the procedure adopted but on the integrity, energy, skill and fairness of the tribunal and in particular its chairman,' he said. Sir Cecil had gone a long way to reassure the interested parties.

Mrs Bottomley said the independent inquiry, set up by Trent Regional Health Authority, would publish its findings and Sir Cecil could ask for wider powers at any time if necessary. Witnesses could make their evidence public.

Allitt killed four children, tried to murder three and assaulted six others on a children's ward at Grantham and Kesteven hospital, Lincolnshire, between February and April 1991. The families' case was led by David Crampton, whose son Paul, two, survived a murder attempt.

Mrs Bottomley welcomed the decision in a statement issued after yesterday's ruling, and added:

'The questions which the parents of Allitt's victims and those of the Royal College of Nursing and Cohse (the health union) want answered are the same questions that I want answered. I want a full investigation of the whole events surrounding this tragic case.'