Furious Labour Party demands change to law so all criminals attend sentencing

Lucy Letby sentenced to whole-life order

The Labour Party has launched a furious petition in response to Lucy Letby refusing to appear in court this morning to hear her sentence being read.

Letby was given a whole life order, meaning she will die in prison, but refused to sit in the dock to hear her fate.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has said she is not only a murder, “but a coward whose failure to face her victims’ families – refusing to hear their impact statements and society’s condemnation – is the final insult”.

Mr Chalk has said the Government is “looking to change the law” in order to force criminals to court, however the opposition say that isn’t good enough.

Launching a public petition this afternoon, Labour has called on the public to tell Rishi Sunak: “No more Lucy Letbys”.

READ MORE: POLL: Should the death penalty be brought back for baby killers like Lucy Letby?

Sir Keir Starmer says the Tory Government has dragged its heels over changing the law, accusing them of having “talked and talked” without action.

They add: “Stop dithering and delaying and make criminals appear in court for sentencing”.

Speaking after the news of Letby’s whole life order, Sir Keir said he shared the victims’ families’ anger about not seeing her in the dock.

“What I don’t think should be allowed to happen is for the Government to say because there are practical considerations, which of course there are, we’ll do nothing about it. Just think of those victims’ families today not seeing the defendant in the dock facing justice as she properly should. They are angry, they’re frustrated. I share that.

“I saw for myself just how important it is. So from our position, we’re thinking not about party politics. We’re thinking about the victims, making an absolutely open offer to the Government, we’ll work with you, overcome the practical considerations, and let’s get this done, let’s get the law changed.”

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In April 2022, Labour called for the same law change, after the killer of Sabina Nessa refused to attend his sentencing hearing.

Ms Nessa, 27, was bludgeoned by her attacker before he dragged her into a south-east London park where she was strangled.

At the time the Ministry of Justice said it would investigate whether it should change the rules, with a Government source claiming the Justice Secretary “is looking at this very carefully”.

15 months on and nothing has changed.

The Government has also so far declined calls to upgrade the inquiry into the hospital’s failings from an independent one to a statutory one, which would compel witnesses to appear.

Asked this morning whether he would bow to families’ demands on the matter, Rishi Sunak said the move would result in the probe taking too long.

He added: “I think the important thing for the inquiry to do is make sure that families get the answers that they need, that it is possible for us to learn the lessons from what happened, everything conducted transparently and to happen as quickly as possible.”

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