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David Fuller Case: Update on Actions

Volume 705: debated on Thursday 16 December 2021

Yesterday, David Fuller was sentenced at Maidstone Crown court for the murders of Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce, as well as over 100 sexual offences in a mortuary, and several other sexual offences.

This is a profoundly distressing case and I would like to reiterate my apologies to the friends and families of all of David Fuller’s victims. While nothing can undo the damage that has been done, he has been brought to justice for his crimes.

I would like to provide an update on the steps we are taking to ensure something like this never happens again.

First, all NHS trusts have undertaken risk assessments on their mortuary and body store facilities and assured their practices against existing Human Tissue Authority guidance. NHS England and Improvement is working with all trusts to ensure that the additional steps already requested are in place early in the new year, if they have not already been delivered.

Secondly, we have made good progress in establishing the independent inquiry chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael to look into the circumstances surrounding the offences committed at the hospital. It will help us understand how these offences took place without detection, identify any areas where swift action is necessary and consider wider national issues, including for the NHS. Sir Jonathan has developed draft terms of reference and will seek views on these from families who have been affected in the new year before they are published.

Next, Ministers have received initial advice from the Human Tissue Authority and they will be reviewing this carefully.

Finally, families have quite understandably approached the trust seeking compensation. I have asked NHS Resolution to work with the trust and engage on plans for providing settlements. More details will be set out on this soon.