Our response to the High Court’s decision

We are absolutely gutted by the decision the High Court has made. We campaigned for so many years and have, with the support of a great many generous people, overcome a seemingly endless number of barriers in what became a quest to obtain a meaningful inquest into our sister Alison’s death. To have fought so hard for so long only to fall at this last hurdle is utterly heartbreaking. 

We would like to thank our legal team, the charity INQUEST, and our respective MPs, as well as the many others who shared their professional expertise, donated to the crowd-funding campaign, or simply offered their support. We also want to thank ITV Calendar, BBC Radio Cumbria, and the Guardian for their support and sensitive coverage.

I wish we could tell you we are deeply shocked by today’s verdict. We are not. We may be raging, upset, confused, and irreparably hurt at what we have been put through, but we are no longer shocked. And that is the real tragedy. What should have been a simple compassionate process in a country that boasts so loudly of its justice system, has been a protracted, painful, emotionally draining, energy-sapping, and at times farcical experience. 

How have we reached a point in this country where we are no longer surprised by injustice, ineptitude, and state-sanctioned institutional incompetence? We have allowed our expectations to become so low that we meekly accept it, we expect it. We are now more surprised by stories of justice, fairness, integrity, and diligence in our public services.  

Alison was a vulnerable young woman who was groomed and abused in the care of the NHS, she then took her own life while she was still in the care of the state as a mental health inpatient. The grooming and abuse she experienced were not made known to the previous inquest. Nor was it known that she had endured a crisis pregnancy and a hasty abortion arranged by staff and senior clinicians at the hospital in which she was abused. These crucial facts were not available to the previous inquest because they had been omitted from Alison’s hospital medical notes. How in the light of such compelling, relevant, and previously unheard evidence, can a fresh inquest not be appropriate?

Alison, and her family, deserve the dignity of a meaningful inquest into her death, an inquest at which all the relevant facts contributing to her state of mind can be revealed and held up to the light. If Alison was your sister, you would also want nothing less… 

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