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Death of Harry Richford caused by gross failings by East Kent University NHS Trust


Assistant Coroner Christopher Sutton-Mattocks has today handed down in the North East Kent Coroner’s Court his conclusions at the end of an inquest into the death of baby Harry Richford in the Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother hospital in Margate.

The inquest lasted for three weeks, during which evidence was given by 34 witnesses.  As well as evidence from Sarah and Tom Richford, the parents of Harry Richford, the inquest heard evidence from doctors, nurses and midwives involved in Harry’s care, as well as senior management at the East Kent University Hospitals Trust, and experts on obstetrics, paediatrics, neonatology and pathology.

Following an earlier ruling in which Article 2 of the ECHR had been found to be engaged, the learned Coroner ruled today that Harry Richford’s death was wholly avoidable, and had been caused to by numerous gross failings on the part of the East Kent University NHS Trust, which amounted to neglect.

Over the course of the inquest, in light of the evidence given, the BBC conducted an investigation into the Trust which led to the exposure of a number of further preventable baby deaths. The Care Quality Commission has confirmed that it has opened a criminal investigation into the case.

The Coroner’s ruling has received extensive press coverage, including on the BBC. The BBC’s further investigation is found here, and further comment can be seen in the Independent.

Jennifer MacLeod and Emma Mockford acted pro bono for the Richford family at the three-week inquest.  They accepted the case through Advocate (formerly the Bar Pro Bono Unit), following which they requested support through Pro Bono Connect.  Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP responded to that request and have acted, with Jennifer and Emma, pro bono for the course of the inquest.

Hugo Leith also acted for the Richford family at an earlier stage.