Skip to main content

Thirlwall Inquiry Update

Volume 738: debated on Thursday 19 October 2023

I am today announcing the terms of reference for the Thirlwall inquiry into the wider circumstances around what happened at the Countess of Chester Hospital, following the convictions of Lucy Letby.

When deciding to launch a statutory inquiry at the request of the families, I was clear that they must be involved in shaping its scope. I am pleased that Lady Justice Thirlwall and her team have worked closely with the families and key stakeholders to ensure that the inquiry will get them the answers that they need and that lessons are learned from these horrific events.

The inquiry will investigate three broad areas:

1. The experiences of the parents of the babies named in the indictment.

2. The conduct of clinical and non-clinical staff and management, as well as governance and escalation processes in relation to concerns being raised about Lucy Letby and whether these structures contributed to the failure to protect babies from her.

3. The effectiveness of governance, external scrutiny and professional regulation in keeping babies in hospital safe, including consideration of NHS culture.

The terms of reference have today been published on I have deposited copies of the terms of reference in the Libraries of both Houses.

The inquiry’s work will now be a matter for the judge. Lady Justice Thirlwall has indicated that she does not currently intend to appoint a panel to support her in this work, though the appointment of an assessor will be kept under review. I will ensure that the inquiry has the resources it needs to carry out this important work and to continue to support the families.

I know Lady Justice Thirlwall and her team will undertake the inquiry thoroughly and as swiftly as possible.