§ Mr. Rowe
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what factors she took into account when deciding what type of further investigation to hold into the events at Grantham and Kesteven general hospital between February and April 1991 which were the subject of the recent trial of former nurse Beverley Allitt; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
In deciding the form of inquiry, my overriding consideration was how to establish the facts behind the horrific Beverley Allitt case in the most rigorous and effective way possible, and ensure that the NHS learns any lessons for the future. The questions the parents want answered are the ones I want answered, and they must be properly and fully answered.
After careful consideration, I decided that this will best be achieved through an independent investigative inquiry, led by Sir Cecil Clothier, QC who has enormous experience in these matters. His advice, based on that long experience, was that, in cases such as this, the truth may more readily emerge in such an inquiry than in an adversarial public forum where witnesses may feel under strong external pressures. I would not have hesitated to order a public inquiry if I had thought that it would uncover the facts more effectively than the inquiry now being undertaken by Sir Cecil and his team.
In ordering the Clothier inquiry, I have obviously been concerned to establish confidence in it. Sir Cecil must be able to see all the witnesses and papers he requires. If necessary, I will give him the statutory powers to do so. He and his team will be acting independently of the parties involved. He will conduct his inquiry in London, away from the scene of Allitt's crimes. I have asked him to proceed as quickly as possible, consistent with establishing the truth, and to publish his report in full. I will, of course, 670W do whatever is necessary to ensure that all possible steps are taken to ensure there is no repeat of such horrific and tragic events.