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Essex Mental Health Inquiry Chair Appointed

The Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, has announced that the Essex Mental Health Statutory Public Inquiry will be chaired by Baroness Kate Lampard.

The statutory public inquiry was granted on 28 June 2023 following a decade of campaigning from the families of victims of Essex mental health services, led by Melanie Leahy, who lost her son Matthew Leahy in 2012. There have been almost 2,000 deaths of patients under the care of Essex mental health services over the last 20 years, and the number of incidents relating to EPUT continues to grow.

Hodge Jones & Allen represent 90 families wishing to participate in the inquiry.

Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew died while an inpatient at an Essex Mental Health Facility, said:Without any warning and absolutely no communication with any of the families, the chair of the Essex Mental Health Statutory Public Inquiry is announced. After more than a decade of campaigning, I only found out by email. This treatment has become the norm over the years.

“I just pray that Baroness Kate Lampard is up to the task ahead. Her background with the Jimmy Saville inquiry and more recently the Advisory panel on deaths in custody gives me some confidence she knows her stuff and I look forward to meeting her to discuss the next steps, the first being to expand the investigation to cover deaths up to the current day.

“The people of Essex and the UK badly need the best possible chair right now. I hope that she will lead this inquiry into the light and in turn save countless lives and patient suffering while bringing justice, answers and peace to those who do need it.”

Nina Ali, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, said: “I am pleased that the Health Secretary has finally announced a chair for the Essex Mental Health Statutory Public Inquiry, following yet more delay over the summer. The families have waited far, far too long to get answers.”

“Baroness Kate Lampard’s role will be extremely difficult, and we look forward to working with her to shape the terms of reference and expand the inquiry to include the most recent deaths in the Essex system. I hope this rushed announcement that saw the families given no warning of the news does not indicate a continuation of the poor government communication that has become the hallmark of the inquiry. I would urge any impacted family we have not spoken to before to get in touch so we can make sure you get the information you need to take part in the inquiry.”

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