Today, 12 March 2018, Adam Wiseman QC opened the Inquest investigating the death of Ellie May Butler. Ellie’s death has received extensive press interest and today was no exception.
Adam Wiseman QC set out the history as he began the opening of the case.
Ellie’s father had been accused of shaking Ellie when she was a 5 week old baby. The father, Ben Butler, was convicted of causing GBH. Ellie was taken into care and her maternal grandparents were awarded a special guardianship order. Subsequently the Court of Appeal overturned the father’s conviction and the Family Division of the High Court concluded that the parents posed no risk to Ellie and exonerated the father from ever having harmed her. Ellie was returned to her parents. Less than a year after Ellie’s return, Ellie was murdered by her father and Ellie’s mother assisted in a cover up.
The Inquest is an Article 2 ECHR Inquest and has had to grapple with complicated constitutional issues; not least the extent of permissible investigation by a coronial court, if any, of a decision of the High Court.