David Fuller: Independent inquiry announced into mortuary abuse
An independent inquiry has been launched by the health secretary after a hospital electrician accessed mortuaries and sexually abused bodies.
David Fuller, 67, filmed himself abusing at least 100 bodies in two Kent hospital morgues over 12 years.
It comes after Fuller, of Heathfield, East Sussex, admitted murdering Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in 1987.
Sajid Javid told the Commons the inquiry would look at the offences and their “national implications”.
He said: “It will help us understand how these offences took place without detection in the trust, identify any areas where early action by the trust was necessary, and then consider wider national issues, including for the NHS.”
The inquiry will be split into two parts, an interim report to be published early in the new year and a second final report looking at the broader national picture and wider lessons for the NHS.
“Will he publish the assessment of the risks for other sectors in which people
have access to human dead bodies?”
“I want to apologise to the friends and families of all the victims for the crimes that were perpetrated in the care of the NHS,” Mr Javid added.
“Nothing that we can say will undo the damage that has been done, but we must act to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again.”
Sir Jonathan Michael, a fellow at the Royal College of Physicians, will chair the inquiry.
It will supersede an independent investigation commissioned by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Mr Javid told the Commons.
He also said penalties available for “appalling” sexual offences will be re-examined following the case to ensure they are “appropriate”.
Fuller kept millions of images and videos of his mortuary crimes on discs and hard drives.
They were were dated between 2008 and November 2020, and he labelled some of the folders with names of his victims.
Fuller had worked at hospitals since 1989 and was at the Kent and Sussex Hospital until it closed in September 2011.
He was transferred to the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury, where the offences continued until his arrest in 2020.
Investigators said Fuller would work late shifts and go into the morgue when other staff had left.
Mr Javid’s announcement comes after eight Kent and Sussex MPs sent a joint letter to the health secretary calling for a public inquiry into mortuary abuse.
In the Commons, Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark asked Mr Javid to confirm that the inquiry would allow victims’ families to give evidence on the impact the crimes have had on them.
He also asked if Mr Javid would make public recommendations for the whole of the NHS, not only the local NHS trust, and added: “Will he publish the assessment of the risks for other sectors in which people have access to human dead bodies?”
Mr Javid confirmed the inquiry would do all three things.
Kent Police earlier said there have been 403 calls to a police phone line, which was set up for people who have information about the investigation.