Fresh inquest to be held into toddler Poppi Worthington's death


A fresh inquest is to be held into the death of toddler Poppi Worthington.

The hearing comes after a judge ruled the 13-month-old girl was sexually assaulted by her father Paul Worthington before her sudden death in December 2012.

She was found with serious injuries at her home in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, and rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Mr Worthington, 48, who was arrested but never charged, denies any wrongdoing.

David Roberts, senior coroner for Cumbria, said there was "substantial public interest" in the case and a second inquest will be opened on March 18 in Cockermouth.

A pre-inquest review will be held on the same date to decide its scope.

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, said: "This is an important step in salvaging justice for Poppi Worthington. It is good that the senior coroner decided to conduct a second inquest and recognised the very real public interest in this case.

"There have been too many delays in this investigation already and I hope that this inquest will now proceed as quickly as possible."

In January, High Court family judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled that - on the balance of probabilities - Mr Worthington "perpetrated a penetrative ... assault on Poppi".

The little girl's death had been shrouded in secrecy, with a 2014 fact-finding civil court judgment being kept private so as not to prejudice any criminal proceedings, while an inquest controversially took only seven minutes to declare her death as "unexplained".

In a statement confirming the new inquest, Mr Roberts said: "The coroner's decision is that the investigation should be resumed and that the case should proceed to inquest as there are sufficient reasons to do so."

Explaining his decision, Mr Roberts said there had been "no adequate coronial enquiry to establish the facts in the case".

The cause of death, registered as "unascertained", could change after the coroner examines the medical evidence, he added.

"The public expectation is that there will be a further enquiry by way of inquest," Mr Roberts said.

"There is substantial public interest in this case and it is in the interests of justice for there to be an examination of the facts in accordance with the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 to ascertain how, when and where Poppi came by her death."

Last month Tracy Worthington said her brother Paul had left the country after being "hounded".

A leaked Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report on Cumbria Police's handling of the case said the initial probe was "not conducted diligently and expediently".

It stated Cumbria's acting chief constable Michelle Skeer took more than a month to hold a meeting over the concerns raised in March 2014 by a High Court family judge who found no "real" investigation was conducted for nine months into the toddler's death.

The Crown Prosecution Service is reviewing its previous decision not to pursue criminal charges.