Family permitted to seek new inquest into 1991 suicide

- BBC News

Family permitted to seek new inquest into 1991 suicide

The family of a woman who killed herself after a secret relationship with a hospital nurse have been given permission to apply for a new inquest.

Alison Bell attended Garlands mental health hospital in Carlisle in 1987 and became pregnant the following year. She died in 1991 aged 25.

The nurse was later sacked but no criminal charges were brought.

Ms Bells brother, Tom Bell, said he hoped a new inquest "might get something close to justice".

He said: "This isnt through the courts, this is an inquest, but it will be justice with a small j and, if thats the closest that we can get, and weve tried our best to get there, then I think thats worthy."

Mr Bell said he had spent thousands of hours, with hundreds of Freedom of Information requests and more than 5,000 emails and letters, in order to get justice for his sister.

"This is pushing, and not stopping pushing, until somebody finally opens the door," he said.

Ms Bell and the trainee male nurse kept their relationship secret and, when she became pregnant, she had an abortion.

The relationship then ended and, in 1991, Ms Bell killed herself.

An inquest, which did not have details of either the relationship or the pregnancy, returned an open verdict but her family claim both had contributed to her death.

The Attorney Generals office has now given permission for the family to seek a new inquest.

A spokesperson said there was a "reasonable prospect" that the High Court would order one.

Cumbria Police investigated in 2001 but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was not enough evidence.

The case was reopened in 2017 and the nurse admitted the relationship but claimed he had not known it was illegal.

At that point the CPS said that while it was satisfied a crime had been committed, it was no longer in the public interest to bring charges.

Garlands closed in March 1999. The following year, a report found "a whole systems failure" had allowed a catalogue of patient abuse.

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