Blocked article on Lucy Letby 'defies' open justice, says Tory MP

15 May 2024

A former government minister has called for the lifting of a court order that has blocked UK readers from accessing an article challenging the Lucy Letby murder verdict.

Sir David Davis, a Conservative MP, used parliamentary privilege yesterday to raise an urgent question about an essay in The New Yorker, which he said raised “enormous concerns” about Letby’s conviction.

The 13,000-word article, also published yesterday, questioned the evidence used in the trial, where Letby was convicted of the murder of seven babies and the attempted murder of six others.

However, the piece has not been made available in the UK due to a court order. Sir David argued that the move to block the article was “in defiance of open justice”.

During an afternoon session on justice in the House of Commons, Sir David said the article “raised enormous concerns about both the logic and competence of the statistical evidence that was a central part of that trial”.

He said: “That article was blocked from publication on the UK internet, I understand because of a court order.

“Now, I’m sure that court order was well intended but it seems to me in defiance of open justice,” he said. “Will the Lord Chancellor look into this matter and report back to the House?”

In response, justice secretary Alex Chalk said: “Court orders must be obeyed and court orders can be displaced by someone applying to court for them to be removed.

“So that will need to take place in the normal course of events,” he noted. On the Letby case, Mr Chalk said that the “jury’s verdict must be respected”.

“If there are grounds for an appeal, that should take place in the normal way.” He added.

Letby was convicted in August 2023 of the murders and attempted murders, which took place while she was working as a neonatal nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital between June 2015 and June 2016.

She was given a whole life sentence for her crimes, meaning she will never be released from prison.

Letby had pleaded not guilty to the charges and is facing a retrial next month on one count of attempted murder, which the jury was unable to reach a verdict on.

She also recently put forward a request to appeal her convictions, which judges have reserved their judgement on.

Separately, the Thirlwall Inquiry, which will investigate how Letby was able to murder and harm multiple babies, is due to begin tomorrow with its preliminary hearing.

The inquiry will also examine the wider NHS culture and effectiveness of management, and how the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust dealt with concerns raised about Letby.

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