Lucy Letby: Families of victims want inquiry live streamed to stop 'grossly offensive' conspiracy theories

The inquiry into how nurse Lucy Letby was able to murder babies at a hospital in Chester will begin to hear evidence in September. 

Lawyers for the families of Letby's victims told a preliminary hearing that the inquiry should be live streamed to the public to prevent the spread of "grossly offensive" conspiracy theories.

Letby was sentenced to 14 whole-life orders after she was convicted of murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others while working on the neo-natal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2015 and 2016.

At the preliminary hearing, inquiry chair Lady Justice Thirlwall heard submissions on whether the hearings should be publicly broadcast.

Peter Skelton KC, on behalf of the families of six babies, said Letby's crimes continued to be the subject of conspiracy theories online.

"One of the most effective antidotes to those theories and the damage they cause will be to see and to hear the people involved in the hospital give a true and comprehensive account of the facts," he said.

But Andrew Kennedy KC, representing the Countess of Chester, said there was a "high level of anxiety" from staff at the prospect of giving evidence which was live streamed.

He said: "If a witness is concerned about live-streaming then if we can remove that concern we can, we would suggest, encourage candour, frankness and openness."

Richard Baker KC, representing some of the other families, said: "Their desire in this case is for change and so that others do not experience what they have experienced."

They were "saddened" and "concerned" at the suggestion the lack of transparency might continue, he said.

Lady Justice Thirlwall will give her decision on whether the hearings will be broadcast at a later date.

She had begun the proceedings with a pause for reflection on the "lives lost", "injuries sustained" and "suffering" of the families.

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The hearing was told 188 requests for information had been made to individuals including midwives, nurses, doctors, managers and members of the hospital board.

The inquiry hearings are scheduled to begin on 10 September at Liverpool Town Hall.

The parents of the babies will be among the first to give evidence.

Counsel to the inquiry Rachel Langdale KC told the hearing: "There are no sides. It is a search for the truth."

Last month Letby asked the Court of Appeal for permission to mount a full legal challenge to her conviction. Judges are due to rule on this at a later date.

The former nurse is due to face a re-trial next month on one charge of the attempted murder of a baby in February 2016.