Gosport War Memorial Hospital: Nineteen suspects identified by Kent Police Operation Magenta investigation into deaths
The lawyer representing families who are seeking inquests into the deaths of loved ones at Gosport War Memorial Hospital has voiced their concern that 19 suspects have been identified through a Kent Police investigation into what happened at the hospital between 1987 and 2001.
Leigh Day partner Emma Jones represents 10 families whose elderly relatives died at the Portsmouth hospital during that period. On their behalf Emma has been campaigning for a Hillsborough-type judge-led inquiry into the hundreds of deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1987 and 2001.
She has secured permission for inquests into the deaths of five people who died at the hospital and is seeking permission for fresh inquests into the deaths of three others.
However, progress on all of the inquests has been delayed until after the conclusion of Kent Police investigation, Operation Magenta, which opened in 2019. It was prompted by the publication of an independent inquiry into more than 700 deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1987 and 2001.
On Wednesday 17 May 2023, Kent Police issued a statement on progress into their investigation.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Jerome of Operation Magenta said:
“The independent investigation into deaths at Gosport War Memorial Hospital is one of the largest and most complex of its nature in the history of UK policing. Our team consists of around 150 serving and retired detectives who have so far assessed more than three million pages of documents including the medical records of over 750 patients, and taken witness statements from more than 1,150 individual family members.
“The investigation is ongoing and continues to make good progress, with 19 suspects currently identified. The interviews under caution remain ongoing. Whilst we have never provided anyone with an estimate of how long our enquiries will last, family members can be confident we are working as quickly and thoroughly as possible to ensure Operation Magenta is the decisive police investigation into what happened at Gosport.
“Every single patient who died is important to us and their individual cases must be reviewed in full in order for an assessment to be made on their evidential strength. We also owe it to their families to investigate each death to the same high standard, and at the conclusion of the investigation all families who want to will be told everything we discovered about the nature of their care.
“It is these families who are at the heart of everything we do. We remain committed to building and maintaining trust and confidence among them and will continue to keep them updated on the progress of the investigation.”
In response, Leigh Day partner Emma Jones said:
“The families we represent will undoubtedly be extremely concerned by about the disclosure from the by police that 19 suspects have been identified. The families have never been satisfied that they have had the answers needed about the deaths of their loved ones and that is why they have been campaigning for many years now for inquests into their deaths.
“The fact that this police investigation which has taken place so many years later has managed to find sufficient evidence to identify 19 suspects demonstrates how substandard the previous investigations were, not only by the police but also by the coroner. It raises questions that at best the earlier investigations were ineffective, narrow and poor and at worst were potentially cover-ups by officials involved.
“We maintain that judge led inquests, similar to the Hillsborough inquests will be the only way to secure all the answers that families need.”
Families question delay to Gosport War Memorial Hospital deaths inquests
Lawyers representing families whose loved ones died at Gosport War Memorial Hospital have written to the Hampshire Coroner to question why inquests have been delayed until after the conclusion of a separate police investigation, Operation Magenta.