Families yet to be contacted fear inquiry into sexual abuse of hospital bodies will be ‘closed shop’
The mother of a woman sexually abused by necrophiliac David Fuller has said she fears the Government’s inquiry will be a “closed shop” to his victims’ families.
Nevres Kemal’s daughter Azra Kemal was 24 when she died after falling from a motorway bridge as she fled from a car that had burst into flames.
She was one of at least 102 women and girls who were sexually assaulted by Fuller, 67, at now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, where he worked as an electrician since 1989.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a probe into the case will be conducted by former NHS trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael while Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said it is working on a compensation scheme.
In a statement after Fuller was jailed for the rest of his life on Wednesday, Ms Kemal (pictured) said: “Our loved ones were violated while we were saying our goodbyes and trying to grieve – it’s just horrendous and there needs to be some accountability for what happened.
“I’m very concerned that the inquiry will just be a closed shop and we won’t have any input, especially as we haven’t even been contacted yet.
“We just need answers as to how Fuller was able to get away with so much for so long.
“Azra has already been failed once, please do not add further pain and anger. Do not fail me. Honour what is right. Listen to the families and honour your words.”
Sallie Booth, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, who is representing Neves Kemal, said families of Fuller’s victims are worried about the independence of the probe because it is not a statutory inquiry, meaning it lacks legal powers to force witnesses to give evidence and more freedom to hear evidence in private.
“They just want to make sure that their voice is heard and that any investigation gets to the truth of what happened and who is responsible,” she said.
“It is long overdue for proper respect to be shown for the dead and for the families who loved them and are grieving for them.
“The authorities have a duty to keep them safe, to fully inform families of any required procedures and the reasons for them and to treat them with respect.”
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust chief executive Miles Scott apologised “for the hurt that has been caused to families as a result of these appalling crimes”.
“We have been in contact with the families affected in recent weeks and our priority continues to be to provide them with any help or assistance they may need for as long as they may need it,” he said.
“As requested by the Secretary of State, we will work with the families and NHS Resolution to agree a compensation scheme without the pain and delay that may be caused by individual claim action.
“We remain committed to complete openness and transparency around the criminal activities committed by Fuller, as we support Sir Jonathan Michael’s investigation.
“We will make any further improvements recommended from the independent inquiry and we have undertaken a risk assessment of our mortuary including assuring ourselves against existing Human Tissue Authority guidance.”
Mr Javid added: “I would like to reiterate my apologies to the friends and families of all the victims for what took place. We are taking action to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.
“First, NHS England and Improvement have received assurance from all NHS trusts that they have undertaken risk assessments on their mortuary and body storage facilities, and checked their practices are in line with existing Human Tissue Authority guidance.
“Second, we have made good progress in establishing the independent inquiry. The chair, Sir Jonathan Michael, has developed draft terms of reference and will engage with families on them in the new year before they are published.
“Third, ministers have received initial advice from the Human Tissue Authority on the current regulatory framework, which I will be reviewing carefully.
“Finally, families have quite understandably approached the trust seeking compensation. I have asked NHS Resolution to work with the trust and engage with families.”
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