Daughter of woman whose corpse was abused loses High Court fight for public inquiry
A woman whose mother’s corpse was abused by a necrophiliac murderer has lost a High Court fight with Health Secretary Sajid Javid over arrangements for a public inquiry.
Amanda Miah, whose mother Sonia Miah died aged 54 in 2018, on Tuesday complained to a High Court judge that arrangements for an inquiry into the crimes of David Fuller infringed her human right to protection from degrading treatment.
But Mr Justice Swift, who heard arguments at a hearing in London, refused to give her the go-ahead to stage a legal challenge after concluding that she did not have an arguable case.
A barrister representing her argued that arrangements for the inquiry did not “meet the needs” of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which says no-one should be subjected to “inhuman or degrading” treatment
Jude Bunting QC told the judge that the claim was “strongly arguable” and of “considerable wider importance”.
Fuller (pictured), who is in his 60s and was a Kent hospital electrician, killed two women before sexually assaulting them and filmed himself abusing more than 100 corpses.
He was jailed in 2021 and Mr Javid has promised to stage a full independent inquiry.
A judge last year heard how Fuller beat and strangled Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, to death before sexually assaulting them in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987.
Fuller also filmed himself abusing at least 102 corpses, including those of a nine-year-old girl, two 16-year-olds and a 100-year-old woman over 12 years before his arrest in December 2020.
He was handed a whole life sentence for the murders, with a concurrent 12-year term for his other crimes, in December 2021, when aged 67.
Mr Bunting raised concerns about inquiry chairman Sir Jonathan Michael’s inability to “compel witnesses” and about “evidence-gathering” taking place in private.
“The circumstances of David Fuller’s offending trigger the duty to investigate under Article 3,” Mr Bunting told the judge in a written case outline.
“… the physical mutilation of a dead body by an agent of the state will give rise to an Article 3 breach in respect of family members.”
He added: “The proposed inquiry falls far short of the standards set by Article 3.
“In particular: the inquiry has no power to compel witnesses or disclosure; there will be no public scrutiny of the evidence; the next-of-kin will not be able to play any role in suggesting questions, in considering the evidence, and in shaping the inquiry.”
Mr Bunting also said Sir Jonathan’s “conduct of the proceedings to date” gave rise to an “appearance of a lack of practical independence”.
A barrister representing Mr Javid had argued the judge should refuse to allow a challenge to be staged.
Julian Blake said complaints made were either “insignificant” or “simply complaints about the way (Sir Jonathan) had chosen to manage the inquiry”.
He said there was an “overwhelming case” for blocking the claim in respect of the “attack on the independence” of Sir Jonathan.
Mr Justice Swift heard that Sir Jonathan was a former clinical nephrologist, hospital health service manager, chief operating officer, and chief executive of three NHS hospital trusts.
Sir Jonathan had previously been the chair of an internal investigation into Fuller, commissioned by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in 2021.
Mr Blake said Sir Jonathan had never been employed by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.
Fuller, of Heathfield, East Sussex, had pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Knell and Ms Pierce days into a trial Maidstone Crown Court trial, after previously admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility.
He also pleaded guilty to 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 victims in mortuaries between 2008 and November 2020.
Trial judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb heard how Fuller attacked his victims in the mortuaries of the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital, in Tunbridge Wells, and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, where he had worked as an electrician since 1989.
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2022, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kent Police / PA.