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The “well-disguised psychopath” protected by HR

Lucy Letby’s crimes have been “revealed in all their wickedness”, says Sarah Vine in the Mail on Sunday. But one thing remains “agonisingly unclear”: why did she do it? When something this atrocious happens, the “normal human mind” searches desperately for an explanation, “anything to help rationalise the horror”. But with Letby, “there is nothing”. No obvious trauma; an ordinary family; a “nice, middle-class upbringing”. No history of drink or substance abuse; no “disturbing sexual proclivities or practices”. That’s what makes her so terrifying: “her banality”. A sense of “wholesomeness” masked her capacity to commit violence against those tiny “unsullied souls”, totally defenceless against her cruelty. Nothing could justify what she’s done, and we are left with an “undeniable conclusion”: she is “simply evil, and evil knows no reason”.

Yes, Letby was a “well-disguised” psychopath, says Libby Purves in The Times. But she would have been stopped much sooner, if not for the terrible failings of her managers. The increase in infant deaths was not properly recorded, so “no alarm bells rang” in the wider NHS; Stephen Brearey, a consultant who expressed worries about Letby, “struggled even to get a meeting” with hospital bosses. When the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recommended an external review, “it didn’t happen”. The medical director demanded all emails concerning the case “cease forthwith”. Doctors who complained were ordered to write apologies to Letby by HR staff, who presumably felt “virtuous and modern” defending a young woman against patriarchal men. It was this concern with “reputation management” that meant a nurse could continue “killing and damaging newborn babies” undisturbed for three years. “The central wickedness was all Letby’s” – but a “dark stain” extends to all of those who put “refinements of HR” above the expert observations of medical professionals.