Debate in parliament as Essex petition is backed by more than 100,000 signatures

Melanie Leahy with her late son Matthew. Picture: Leahy family

A bid for a public inquiry into deaths connected to mental health care will be debated in Parliament next month, after the petition was supported by more than 100,000 signatures.

The late Kevin Peters of Great Dunmow. Picture: Mike Perry

The late Kevin Peters of Great Dunmow. Picture: Mike Perry

But Melanie Leahy, whose son Matthew died aged 20, believes the independent review over “failures in care” between 2008 and 2015 at the Linden Centre in Chelmsford will be lacking teeth, without any power to bring new evidence to light.

Instead Mrs Leahy wants full disclosure, with the inquiry having the powers to force people to take the stand under oath.

Since Melanie launched her campaign for a public inquiry earlier this year, 24 families have come forward to tell their stories, including a Dunmow resident on behalf of her late husband Kevin Peters, who was a postman in the town. Mr Peters took his life in 2012.

LINKED: Dunmow woman joins group calling for inquiry into mental health care deaths

In a debate brought to the House of Commons by Conservative South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge, health minister Edward Agar said: “I am very much aware, as is my honourable friend the member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries), of the petition from families of patients who have died while under the care of NHS services in the Essex area, calling for a public inquiry into the deaths. I completely understand that they have concerns that they want to have heard in public.

“They want answers, and they want to know what happened. My honourable friend the member for Mid Bedfordshire has given careful consideration to the failures in care at the former North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

“On her behalf, I am announcing today that she has set out her intention to commission an independent review into the serious questions raised by a series of tragic deaths of patients at the Linden Centre between 2008 and 2015.”

But Mrs Leahy said: “The review being offered offers me no confidence and fails to incorporate all the failed families now on board.”

She added: “There have been a number of so called investigations to date – all of them fragmented, piecemeal and ultimately a whitewash which have achieved nothing.

“The only forum for a proper and comprehensive investigation is a public and statutory inquiry and this is the only forum everyone – organisations as well as individuals – can be called to account and the one they will be obliged to attend, but also obliged to give evidence under oath.

“I moved forward with multiple failed families to achieve our goal – the truth.”

Mrs Leahy is encouraging those who have lost loved ones to get in touch with her.

The campaign website is


Samaritans provides support to anyone in emotional distress, or at risk of suicide. They are available at any time for free. Call 116 123.

Credit Piers Meyler

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