Law to be changed after Lucy Letby avoids turning up to her own sentencing
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The government has promised to change the law after serial killer Lucy Letby did not appear in court for her sentencing.
Letby was given a whole life order for murdering seven babies and attempting to murder six others, meaning she will never be released from prison and has no chance for parole, she will die behind bars.
Letby's refusal to appear in court was described as a 'disgrace' which 'spits in the face' of the justice system by the families of her victims.
In response the government has pledged to change the law 'at earliest opportunity', with justice secretary Alex Chalk saying they were 'committed' to making the change.
It will be a move which receives plenty of support from the public and across politics. Prior to Letby's sentencing, both the Conservatives and Labour had backed changing the law.
Former justice secretary Robert Buckland said it had been a 'cynical refusal' to attend her sentencing from Letby which added to an 'already heinous injury'.
Leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer also backed calls for a change to the law, saying the families of victims were 'entitled to see justice delivered' and that he thinks bringing in the new law 'can be done very quickly'.
However, some legal experts have voiced concerns at the law forcing criminals into the dock for their sentencing.
Lord Thomas, former Lord Chief Justice, said it was 'obvious' to have such powers in certain cases where the threat of a longer sentence would be the price for a convicted person's disrespect, but in cases like Letby's which received a whole life order, it may not work as hoped.
He explained that he had once seen 'someone in the United States bound and gagged in court' and didn't think it was 'an appropriate solution', suggesting instead that the sentencing could be broadcast into a person's cell.
Barrister Matthew Scott wrote in The Spectator that it was 'very stupid not to attend your sentencing' in most cases as being in court to show remorse could not harm their case and failure to attend could 'annoy' the judge who was passing sentence.
However, he wrote that there could be times where it was 'entirely rational for the defendant to stay away' and that the government might be changing the law because they feel 'something must be done'.
Scott wrote that bringing unwilling prisoners into court for sentencing was 'not so straightforward', and that some criminals would actively disrespect and disrupt proceedings if they were forced to be present.
He recommended that the convicted not wanting to attend court could be put in a cell with CCTV so those attending the proceedings could see them.
Legal expert and author The Secret Barrister warned that forcing people to be in court risked leading to a 'hideous spectacle of a wild, bloodied and bruised prisoner shouting foul abuse at the victims’ families' to get themselves sent back to the cells if they didn't want to be in court.