Ellie Butler inquest verdict – Statement of Neal Gray
Date posted: 25 April 2018
I wish to make a statement to set out my reaction to the Prevention of Future Deaths Report by the Coroner, Dame Linda Dobbs, which I have now had the opportunity to read.
I am clear in my understanding that the document records recognition of failings that are unsurprising in circumstances in which the independent social workers, S4C, Sutton Children’s Services and Ellie’s guardian, all accepted that they had let Ellie down. That gives me some encouragement that this Inquest investigation may have achieved something. What went so tragically wrong has been exposed to the public; which is what I set out to accomplish.
I think that the Inquest also achieved some success in also exposing failings in a family court system whose ultimate job it is to protect our children.
The role of the family court in decisions made or actions taken which inevitably led to Ellie being placed at risk of mortal harm was the ‘elephant in the room’ throughout the Inquest. I would have liked to have heard from the Judge herself. I think any input by her in this process would have been invaluable. In fact, any acknowledgement by her; even an informal approach to me by her such as a letter expressing her condolences to my family would have been appreciated. That would have been the humane thing to do.
I have come to the conclusion with some regret, that I cannot take this matter any further. Finally, Ellie may be laid to rest. I still miss her and think of her every day, but I think that if important lessons are learned from this tragedy then her death may not have been in vain.
I wish to thank the members of the public and the press who have been so kind and compassionate to me.
I also wholeheartedly thank the police and Joanne Early from Victim Support, and my legal team at Wilson Solicitors LLP.
Neal Gray 25.4.18