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Essex Mental Health Inquiry

A petition led by Melanie Leahy whose 20-year-old son died whilst an inpatient at the Linden Centre, was signed by 100,000+ people. Many of these like Melanie were bereaved parents and families, whose loved ones had died whilst in hospital.

The petition called for a full Statutory Inquiry into what were clearly catastrophic failings in the care and treatment being provided to vulnerable patients under Mental Health Services across Essex.

This led to a debate in Parliament in November 2020 which was followed in January 2021 by the launch of an Independent (ie a non-Statutory Inquiry) to be chaired by Dr Geraldine Strathdee.

This was not what the families were asking for at all.

An Inquiry without full statutory powers is toothless and it is of note that after just under 2 years, Dr Strathdee has herself come to the same conclusion as set out in her open letter. The current Inquiry is clearly not fit for purpose.

Some 80+ families represented by Nina Ali and Priya Singh refuse to engage in what they consider to be a pointless Inquiry and are campaigning for the current Inquiry to now be converted to the full statutory Inquiry that they had been asking for from the outset.

“Despite the numerous Inquests, and investigations to date, nothing has changed, no lessons learnt and people continue to die. Surely now it is clear that nothing less than a full statutory inquiry will suffice.”
Nina Ali, Partner

Current records are showing that more than 2,000 people have died whilst on the care of the Essex Trust. An additional 500 more than originally reported.

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    Campaign for a Statutory Public Inquiry

    Melanie Leahy’s son Matthew died in Linden Centre mental health unit over ten years ago and she, together with a cohort of similarly bereaved families, has been campaigning tirelessly ever since #matthewscampaign to get answers.

    “I want to know what happened to my son and find out why so many repeat failings and multiple deaths have been allowed to continue for so many years. They say time is a healer, but we are getting no healing in this living nightmare. We urge the government to do the right thing. Add the statutory powers. Find out what’s been going so terribly wrong here in Essex. Learn from these mistakes and send that learning across our nation.”
    Melanie Leahy

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    Statutory Public Inquiry v Non-statutory Inquiry

    Only a statutory Inquiry can compel witnesses to attend and for their evidence to be given under oath

    Only a statutory Inquiry can compel organisations to submit all relevant documentary and other evidence.

    Only a statutory Inquiry will give the Chair an established framework for investigation that cannot be short circuited.

    Only a statutory Inquiry is heard in Public and is therefore transparent and open to scrutiny.

    A non-statutory Inquiry (ie the currentone) lacks all of these power, relies on witnesses to come forward voluntarily and takes place behind closed doors.

    Join our campaign #StatutoryPublicInquiry #essexMHdeaths

    If you or your family have been affected and would like confidential legal advice please get in touch with our Inquiry Team on

    or email Alastair Banks at

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    Essex Mental Health Inquiry – Latest News

    The campaign has been publicly supported by a growing number of MPs, including:

    • Sir John Whittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon
    • Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham
    • Vicky Ford, Conservative MP for Chelmsford
    • Barbara Keeley, Labour MP for Worsley and Eccles South
    • Sam Tarry MP, Labour MP for Ilford South
    • Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting

    The latest to join calls for a statutory public inquiry into the deaths is leading autism researcher Professor Sir Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research centre at the University of Cambridge.


    "I cannot thank HJA for all their support and help throughout my case... It was a difficult and emotional time but they were there for me. All procedures were explained with patience and understanding at a sensitive time."

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    Hodge Jones & Allen calls for a Statutory Public Inquiry

    “The lack of evidence provided to the current inquiry by EPUT staff highlights the critical failings across mental health services, and it cannot be ignored – urgent protection is needed for some of the most vulnerable in our society.

    “We must hear these stories to bring peace to families who’ve spent years without answers. Our plea to the government is unchanged, an immediate upgrade to a statutory public inquiry is the only answer otherwise we are banging on closed doors.

    “Current records are showing that more than 2,000 people have died whilst in the care of Essex Trust. An additional 500 more than previously reported. Our families want to get on and support a statutory public inquiry to allow for lessons to be learnt and for others to benefit across the country from those lessons.”
    Priya Singh

    Priya Singh, Senior AssociatePriya Singh





    Nina Ali, Partner
    Nina Ali

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