PROSECUTORS were unable to check evidence in a manslaughter case against Dr Jane Barton after it was ‘accidentally destroyed’.
Details emerged from documents published by the government-established inquiry into deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Exactly a week ago the Gosport Independent Panel revealed 456 patients had their lives shortened, while another 200 ‘probably’ had their lives shortened.
A Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, Hilary Reeve, was tasked with reviewing Operation Rochester, the second investigation, started in 1998, into the hundreds of deaths at the Bury Road hospital.
Writing in October 2013, the specialist said: ‘Because of my limited remit I have read the various review documents and correspondence on the CPS file.
‘I have not reviewed the evidence itself; evidential material submitted by the police was accidentally destroyed by the Record Management Unit.’
She was trying to find out if a report, compiled by Professor Richard Baker in 2003, had been considered by the CPS in making a decision not to prosecute. The Baker report was published in 2013.
Ms Reeve added: ‘Due to the accidental destruction of the police evidence it is not possible to give a clear answer about whether the report was available when the case was considered however, there are clear references in correspondence which indicate that the parties were aware of its existence.’
Ms Reeve ruled that the decision not to prosecute Dr Barton, 69, for manslaughter based on gross negligence would not have been affected.
In the letter she said: ‘I do not consider that the report would change the CPS conclusion that there was insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.’
Eric Cousins, 70, of Highlands Road, Fareham lost his 82-year-old dad Arthur.
Mr Cousins told The Sun: ‘It is very convenient (destroying the evidence). It has just been a cover-up all the way through.’
Dr Barton told police in 2006 she found the investigation into her ‘repugnant and deeply distressing’, The Sun reported at the weekend.
Hampshire police ran three probes into the deaths but are now set to hand over to another force in the wake of the panel report last week.
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘Hampshire Constabulary retained all police-generated material in relation to the investigation.’
Families will be told when the force hands over.