MPs hear inquiry calls after family endures three funerals for baby daughter

Andrew Ashurst
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A family have had to endure three funerals for their daughter after police kept discovering body parts they had not returned, MPs heard.

Conservative Chris Green said relatives of Leah Aldridge have "no confidence" that Greater Manchester Police have allowed them to finally lay her to rest.

Prime Minister Theresa May faced calls to launch an inquiry before telling MPs it was an "absolutely terrible case" and the family have suffered a "prolonged trauma" as a result of how it has been handled.

Five-week-old Leah had a cold and was not sleeping when she was shaken to death by her father Andrew Ashurst, who was later jailed, as he tried to settle her.

Leah sustained massive brain damage and died in hospital on Christmas Day in 2002.

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Green (Bolton West) said: "Leah Aldridge was killed by her father in 2002 and after the coroner and Greater Manchester Police finished their investigation, the body was returned to the family for her funeral.

"Last year the police discovered they had retained some of Leah's body parts and these were returned to the family for a second funeral.

"Only a few weeks ago yet more body parts were discovered by the police and the family had to go through the ordeal of a third funeral."

MPs could be heard reacting in disbelief at the situation, with Mr Green adding: "They have no confidence in Greater Manchester Police or the police and crime commissioner, the mayor of Greater Manchester (Andy Burnham), that they now have finally allowed the family to lay their daughter Leah to rest.

"Would the Prime Minister hold an inquiry into this matter for the sake of Leah's family and for other families across Greater Manchester?"

Mrs May replied: "I think this is an absolutely terrible case that he has set out.

"I'm sure he'll have felt from the reaction from MPs across the House when they heard him setting out the details that we all want to express our deepest sympathy to Leah's family for what is a prolonged trauma they have had to endure as a result of the way this has been handled.

"I understand the deputy mayor of Greater Manchester has been in touch with the Human Tissue Authority about the case and the Human Tissue Authority is advising on ensuring the establishment concerned take the necessary work to evaluate what went wrong in this case, put in measures to minimise the chance this can ever happen again.

"Officials in the Home Office are going to be meeting both with Greater Manchester Police and the National Police Chiefs Council to further address this issue of historically held human tissue and I'll ensure the relevant Home Office minister updates (Mr Green) on the outcomes of those meetings."

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