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What does the case of baby killing nurse Lucy Letby tell us about our society? – CT

This week’s Christian Today article 

What does the case of baby killing nurse Lucy Letby tell us about our society?


Lucy Letby(Photo: Cheshire Police)

The case of the nurse Lucy Letby, who was convicted of the mass murder of seven babies, and six cases of attempted murder at the Countess of Chester hospital in England, is sad and unspeakable. Distressing hardly covers it. Yet the tragedy itself and the coverage of it has revealed a great deal about our confused post-Christian society.

The inconsistency of our society’s views on human life

Brendan O’Neill, in a profound and fascinating article in the online magazine Spiked, spoke of Letby’s “calmness as she poisoned the feeblest individuals in society: frail babies on a neonatal ward.” But he was wrong. Those babies are not the feeblest individuals in society. The babies in the womb are. And the same society that would rightly condemn a nurse for killing a baby born at 23 weeks, regards it as a human right for a mother to kill her own baby at that age.

A timeline of her crimes in the Guardian newspaper reveals that several of the babies were born prematurely – especially Child G.

“The most premature of all babies in the case, Child G was born 15 weeks early and weighed just over 450g (1lb). Letby tries to kill her three times over three weeks, the first time on the day of her 100th day alive. Child G, now eight, is severely disabled as a result of the attacks.”

On the one hand we are outraged that a nurse attempted to kill a 23-week-old baby, but on the other hand, when Carla Foster was sentenced to jail for killing her 34-week-old baby, our progressives were outraged that she should be punished at all! Abortion has become such a secular sacrament that to point out this inconsistency is almost regarded as blasphemy in our ‘progressive’ society.

Spiked regularly publishes articles advocating abortion, including “the case for late abortion”, “late abortion and the fallacy of foetal pain”; “a moral defence of late abortion” and “We need to decriminalise abortion once and for all”. The latter article is subtitled “there should be no limit on a woman’s right to choose”. No limit?! Ann Furedi, the author of several of these articles, was formerly the chief executive for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK’s largest independent abortion provider. Ironically for a magazine which prides itself on allowing different points of view, Spiked never allows the alternative point of view on abortion.

The problem when the reputation of organisations takes precedence over humans

There had been warnings about Letby by doctors and others who were concerned, but these were just dismissed. In fact, more than dismissed. The doctors were required by the CEO of the hospital, Tony Chambers, to sign a letter of apology to her. This letter stated “‘Dear Lucy, we would like to apologise for any inappropriate comments that may have been made during this difficult period” … “We are very sorry” for your “stress and upset”. Two of the doctors were ordered to attend a mediation session with her. Two of the consultant paediatricians at the hospital have alleged that the hospital refused to contact the police because they were concerned about the hospital’s reputation if it became a crime scene.

This is what happens when the organisational machine, concerned with productivity and reputation, overrides basic humanity. When Labour MSP Jackie Baillie tweeted, “There are parallels between the #LucyLetby case and the QEUH in Glasgow. Health bosses being more concerned about the reputation of the hospital than the lives of patients is simply wrong. Lessons need to be learned,” she was met with outrage and called “evil” for making the comparison. But she was surely right? Baillie was not comparing the murder of the babies with the deaths caused by mismanagement, as though they were moral equivalents. But she was rightly pointing out that managerial inconsistencies, caused by those who were more concerned about reputations and targets, were responsible for people dying.

Let me share a small personal example of the dangers of that bureaucratic legalese. At one time I was in hospital and was ‘fitting’ (rigoring) on the bed with an extreme temperature. There was a student nurse sitting beside me calmly filling out a form. The other patients in the ward tried to get her attention – although she could clearly see what was going on. Eventually a doctor came over and started to treat me. Why did that nurse do nothing? Because she had been told to fill out a form and that was her job. She forgot that her primary duty of care was to her patient, not to the one task that she had been given.

The problem of evil

The Guardian timeline tells us of Child I.

“Murder of Child I 23 October 2015: A murder described in court as ‘persistent, calculated and cold-blooded’, Letby kills Child I on her fourth attempt after inserting air into the baby girl’s stomach. The nurse later sent a sympathy card to Child I’s parents on the day of her funeral.”

How can this be described as anything other than evil? Letby seemed to recognise this. She wrote on a note in her house, “I am evil, I did this.” But how do we deal with such evil?

Brendan O’Neill cites the atheist philosopher Terry Eagleton: “Evil has a ‘natural affinity with the bureaucratic mind … Flaws, loose ends and rough approximations are what evil cannot endure. Goodness, by contrast, is in love with the dappled, unfinished nature of things.”

It’s a neat observation. But it does not tell us how to deliver us from evil. Nor how to deal with the evil that each of us has in our own hearts. Our confused society can hardly define evil, let alone deal with it. The only answer to the problem of evil is the beauty, love and atoning sacrifice of Christ.

The Apologetic of Evil – The Keswick Lecture – 16th July 2014

The Jesus Revolution is Needed Today – CT



  1. Yes!!! So let’s also us some of the abortion lobby’s own ideas against them!!! Across the world a time limit of 12 weeks is often chosen by legislators for abortion. From an abortion supporter’s perspective this makes sense as the early fertilised ovum looks tiny and formless. With time the body, head and limbs, plus other anatomical pieces, make an appearance. This is where the situation gets profoundly challenging for abortion fans. NHS website’s-‘Dating Scan’-is an objective piece of science (ultrasound) data from a neural source. It has become as real a rite of passage as a birth cert, a death cert, a driving licence or a passport. Being photographic it is quite intimate and personal. But just look, even for a few seconds, at the torso-limbs-head on display. Even from the radical abortionist’s angle there may be huge desirability in getting the ugly procedure over before this phase of clear development is reached. Some abortion doctors in the past (doing a limited amount of NHS abortions on top of regular Obs and Gynae schedules) showed an understandable reluctance to undertake abortions at close to 12 weeks. UK Churches and Church publications should be using the NHS Dating Scan in publications and online. It’s one of the strongest defences against unrestricted abortion. We get very irate as Christians, far too aroused really about gay sex perhaps, yet heterosexual sex is behind one of the gravest genocides in human history: one life per second, over 10 million in UK alone, perhaps 40% or more of all human deaths per year globally?

  2. The following is from The Catholic Herald:

    As Letby killed babies on a ward, a nurse in another part of the hospital was getting paid to kill babies in utero. One of Letby’s victims was born at 23 weeks gestation, an age at which babies can be legally aborted in this country.

    Do our lives really only have value to the extent that someone else wants us to live? This is something that unrepentant advocates of abortion can chew over with Pol Pot in the afterlife.

    We are living with the consequences of a “no” to God our father, a “no” to truth, beauty and goodness, a “no” that ushers in a “yes” to the father of lies, ugliness and evil.

    How did a nurse commit such unthinkable murders? Are they really so unthinkable in a world that considers the killing of a baby with Down’s syndrome a “right”, that calls for abortion on demand up to birth? Are we so blind that we cannot see the lies, the ugliness and the evil that lurks beneath what bubbles up to the surface?

    How deeply corrupted is a conscience that celebrates both the abolition of the death penalty and the introduction of euthanasia for prisoners, the emancipation of women and the right to self ID, the safeguarding of children and grooming in schools? We are crazy without God.

    On top of this, those tasked with revealing God have tried to assimilate into the godless culture, thus compounding the blindness. As a result, broad swathes of the Church have forgotten what the Church actually teaches, its beauty, its integrity, its coherence, and in the perfect twist of an upside-down world it is left to modern feminists like Louise Perry and Mary Harrington to reason to Catholic conclusions like explorers stumbling across some undiscovered continent.

  3. David if Lucy Letby is in fact guilty then your comments are valid. But there are real problems with this conviction for murder and it may be wise not to climb aboard the media bandwagon and sensationalise what you may one day lament as yet another miscarriage of justice if this case goes to appeal.

    The prosecution presented no direct evidence at all and Lucy Letby’s guilt was established entirely on circumstantial evidence and the inferences and speculation made from it. That is of course allowed, but what isn’t is that the prosecution failed entirely to prove mens rea (malice aforethought) which is essential to prove in murder.

    Medics and biological scientists are pointing out that the expert evidence was flawed because it failed to take account of several medical conditions which could easily explain the babies symptoms.

    Mathematicians are pointing out the deeply deceptive statistics which were used to put Lucy Letby ‘in attendance at every death considered’.

    This interview between Prof Fenton and Dr Scott MacLachlan summarises some of the issues very well.

    1. mens rea’? DOn’t you just hate amateur lawyers. She was found guilty. She admitted it – I am evil – I did it. How strange that such is your obsession with contradicting everything I write you can attempt to excuse this absolute evil…

      1. David,

        No attempt to excuse evil and I’m not attempting to contradict your argument about abortion, which is as you point out probably an even greater evil.

        I agree completely with the comments made above that if she had taken a job at the local abortion clinic instead she could have practiced killing babies all day long and tragically the law would have been be on her side. What does that say about society?

        No amateur lawyer here, just a concerned citizen who could also have to sit on a jury and decide one day. Anyway it’s not about me, it’s about the arguments involved.

        Yes she was found guilty, as people often are who are later found to have been innocent. …Which starts with concerned people looking critically at the preceding trial.

        It was up to the prosecutor to prove guilt not for the defence to prove innocence.

        No she never admitted it. The writing that says, ‘I did it’ also said, ‘I haven’t done anything wrong’. Both sides cherry pick what they want from that. Proof? Really? Or reflections of a mind tormented by a year of criminal scrutiny. Reminiscent of some of the psalms of David.

        It’s a bit of common sense to ask why an intelligent person apparently goes to great lengths for a couple of years to perfectly conceal evidence of their murderous activities at work, but then forgets to conceal the same at home?

        It looks like reasonable doubt, which makes the conviction questionable, doesn’t it?

        Just to say, as I did before, if you read my first comment, that if she did do it then she deserves the punishment handed down.

      1. Sorry, at risk of hijacking David’s topic which is about abortion.

        The smoking gun as it was called in the media scrum. No direct evidence was found for malicious poisoning by insulin at all. It remains speculation. However check out hyperinsulinism or the effect of viral infections on insulin levels in neonates.

  4. Thanks David. I have a half completed big post pointing out the same inconsistency. Also the need to describe Letby as ‘a monster’ and ‘evil’ is an attempt to distance her humanity from ours; we are incapable of such evil. State sanctioned abortion gives the lie to this pretension. So too does Jesus observation that hate in the heart is murderous intention. I agree too with your observation about Spiked, generally a morally reliable paper.

    1. Of course ‘Spiked’ is morally reliable . It is the natural outgrowth of its sire, ‘ Living Marxism’.

      As the first Duke of Wellington remarked when he was mistaken for a Mr. Smith at a social event :

      “If you believe that , Sir , you will believe anything.”

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