Thursday, 18 Jul 2024

EXCLUSIVE How Lucy Letby's legal aid cost nearly £1million

EXCLUSIVE How Lucy Letby’s legal aid cost nearly £1million: Serial killer benefitted from £980,000 worth of support while battling child murder cases

  • Letby’s total legal aid bill could increase once all billing claims are processed 
  • Crown Prosecuting Service also spent more than £2.5million to jail the killer

Lucy Letby racked up a nearly £1million legal aid bill while on trial for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others, MailOnline can reveal.

Representatives for the serial killer received at least £980,133.92 in legal aid, the Ministry of Justice confirmed in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Anyone facing a Crown Court trial is eligible for legal aid, however applicants can be required to pay contributions up to the entire cost of the defence it they are convicted of at least one offence they had been charged with.

It is unclear if Letby, 33, who was sentenced to a whole-life term after a jury found her guilty of murder and attempted murder, will have to repay the legal aid. 

Her legal aid total comes as it was revealed that taxpayers coughed up more than £2.5million to prosecute Letby during her 10-month trial.

Lucy Letby racked up a nearly £1million legal aid bill while on trial for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others, MailOnline can reveal. Pictured: Letby while she worked as a nurse at the Countess of Chester Hospital

Representatives for the serial killer received at least £980,133.92 in legal aid, the Ministry of Justice confirmed in response to a Freedom of Information request. A total of £975,889.24 was provided to her solicitor and barrister at Manchester Crown Court. Her solicitor at the Police Station received another £4,244.68. Pictured: Letby while on trial at Manchester Crown Court

Letby’s legal aid expenses are in addition to the £2,504,245 bill that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ran up to jail the serial killer. Lucy Letby is pictured in custody

Legal aid was provided to Letby’s representatives at both Crown Court and the Police Station, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has disclosed. 

A total of £975,889.24 was provided to her solicitor and barrister at Manchester Crown Court. Her solicitor at the Police Station received another £4,244.68.

READ MORE: Lucy Letby was caught after a witness was haunted by accounts of the screams of the babies she killed 

However, the total spend on Letby’s case could increase after the Legal Aid Agency receives receipts of all claims associated with her trial. The MoJ notes that receipts are received and paid in arrears upon conclusion of a case. 

But in situations involving ongoing proceedings, recent sentencing or appeals, further claims can be made until all lawyers involved have completed the billing process.

Letby’s legal aid expenses are in addition to the £2,504,245 bill that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) ran up to jail the serial killer.

The CPS, responding to The Sun’s Freedom of Information request, said the figure accounts for ‘counsel, experts and presentational fees’.

The former nurse, who is Britain’s most prolific child killer, was sentenced to 14 whole-life orders for the murders and seven attempted killings. She is currently at Low Newton prison, Co Durham and will die behind bars.

Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke has branded the CPS bill for her trial as ‘shocking’, alleging that it demonstrates how Letby’s ‘psychopathy’ continued ‘until the end’.

‘She was fully aware of her guilt but decided to put the families through the ordeal of the awful case when she could have pleaded guilty,’ he told The Sun. 

‘She probably got a kick out of that — and by putting pressure and costs on to the system.’

The former nurse, who is Britain’s most prolific child killer, was sentenced to 14 whole-life orders for the murders and seven attempted killings. Lucy Letby is pictured holding an infant at Countess of Chester Hospital in 2012  

Total spend on Letby’s case could increase after the Legal Aid Agency receives receipts of all claims associated with her trial. Pictured: Letby being arrested outside her home in June 2018

The UK Government has also announced an inquiry into Letby’s crimes. Pictured: Police interview Letby in an interview room in July 2018

The UK Government has also announced an inquiry into Letby’s crimes, with one of the country’s most senior judges slated to lead the probe.

The inquiry will have legal powers to compel witnesses, including former and current staff of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, where Letby worked and killed, to provide evidence. 

READ MORE: Chilling image shows Lucy Letby at the christening of a newborn baby who died on the unit where nurse carried out her killing spree 

Health Secretary Steve Barclay, making a statement to the House of Commons on Monday, said: ‘This inquiry will examine the case’s wider circumstances, including the (hospital) trust’s response to clinicians who raised the alarm and the conduct of the wider NHS and its regulators.

‘I can confirm to the House that Lady Justice Thirlwall will lead this inquiry.

‘She is one of the country’s most senior judges, currently sitting in the Court of Appeal and with many years of experience as a senior judge and a senior barrister before that.’

He added: ‘I have raised with Lady Justice Thirlwall that the families should work with her to shape the terms of reference.

‘We hope to finalise these in the next couple of weeks so the inquiry can start the consultation as soon as possible.

‘I have also discussed with Lady Justice Thirlwall the families’ desire for the inquiry to take place in phases so it provides answers to vital questions as soon as possible.’

Mr Barclay later told MPs: ‘The crimes of Lucy Letby were some of the very worst the United Kingdom has witnessed.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay told MPs Lady Justice Thirlwall (pictured) has ‘many years of experience’ as a senior judge. She will lead the inquiry

The inquiry will have legal powers to compel witnesses, including former and current staff of the Countess of Chester Hospital. Pictured: The corridor within the Countess of Chester Hospital’s neonatal unit

‘I know that nothing can come close to righting the wrongs of the past, but I hope Lady Justice Thirlwall’s inquiry will go at least some way to giving the victims’ families the answers they deserve.’

READ MORE: One of Britain’s most senior judges to lead killer Lucy Letby inquiry

Mr Barclay said another look will be given to calls to disbar senior managers for serious misconduct.

He said such a recommendation in the 2019 Kark review had been previously looked at by the NHS but it was decided introducing wider changes called for by the same review ‘mitigated the need to accept this specific recommendation on disbarring’.

Mr Barclay told MPs: ‘In light of the evidence from Chester and ongoing variation in performance across trusts, I have asked NHS England to work with my department to revisit this.

‘They will do so alongside the actions recommended by General Sir Gordon Messenger’s review of leadership, on which the Government has already accepted all seven recommendations from the report dated June last year.

‘This will ensure the right standards, support and training are in place for the public to have confidence that NHS boards have the skills and experience needed to provide safe, quality care.’

The hospital saw a significant rise in the number of babies suffering serious and unexpected collapses in 2015 and 2016.

Letby’s presence when collapses took place was first mentioned to senior management by the unit’s head consultant in late June 2015.

Countess of Chester Hospital (pictured) saw a significant rise in the number of babies suffering serious and unexpected collapses in 2015 and 2016. Letby’s presence when collapses took place was first mentioned to senior management by the unit’s head consultant in late June 2015

Concerns among some consultants about Letby increased and were voiced to hospital bosses when more unexplained and unusual collapses followed, her trial at Manchester Crown Court heard.

But Letby was not removed from the unit until after the deaths of two triplet boys and the collapse of another baby boy on three successive days in June 2016.

She was confined to clerical work but registered a grievance procedure, which was resolved in her favour, and was due to return to the unit in March 2017.

The move did not take place as soon after police were contacted by the hospital trust.

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