THERE is ‘strong’ evidence to bring criminal charges after the deaths of hundreds of patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital a detective has said.
Former Assistant Chief Constable Steve Watts, who led the third and largest investigation into 94 deaths, told BBC Panorama he believed there was enough evidence to take the case to court.
Mr Watts said: ‘I think it's strong enough now, I think it was strong enough then, and I think there was an overriding public interest in doing so.’
An inquiry in June last year found more than 450 patients died after being given ‘dangerous’ levels of drugs with Dr Jane Barton at the centre of the scandal. The News then launched its Now For Justice campaign which seeks resolution of the victims’ families.
Last year Hampshire police chief constable Olivia Pinkney apologised for the three previous investigations into the deaths where no charges have ever been brought.
The Crown Prosecution Service previously looked at possible charges of manslaughter and murder in relation to Dr Barton and some nurses who administered the drugs. However, prosecutors decided there was not a reasonable chance of securing convictions.
The case was handed over for review to Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, head of serious crime for Kent and Essex Police in July, 2018.
ACC Downing met with family members last week and told them the initial assessment phase – looking at all information from the Gosport Independent Panel and an earlier Hampshire police probe – is due to be completed before the next meeting in April.
For each death investigators are assessing evidence uncovered by the panel, looking if any would change a previous CPS decision not to prosecute, and then this will be scrutinised.
Dr Barton, who declined to comment to the BBC, was disciplined by the General Medical Council in 2010 for serious professional misconduct, but she was not struck off and retired soon after.
Panorama: Killed in Hospital is on BBC One on Monday January, 21 at 8.30pm.