• High Court has ordered new inquest into death of Jonnie Meek
  • Three independent clinical experts have sided with Jonnie Meek’s parents over cause of his death
  • Cannock Chase CCG made application on behalf of families

The High Court has ordered a new inquest into the death of a three-year-old boy at Stafford Hospital following new evidence which called into doubt the original verdict.

Jonnie Meek, who was disabled and had to be fed through a tube, died suddenly at Stafford Hospital’s children’s unit in 2014 when doctors attempted to try a new milk feed. He died just three hours later from what his parents believed was an allergic reaction.

In 2015, HSJ revealed concerns over the accuracy of evidence provided to the original inquest, which concluded Jonnie died suddenly due to pneumonia, as well as claims there had been a “cover up”.

His parents discovered inaccuracies in his medical notes, including mention of three cardiac arrests they say never happened, and false information given to a child death overview panel. This included a statement from a healthcare assistant Lauren Tew, who later told HSJ she had never made the statement recorded as being in her name.

A subsequent independent review sided with Jonnie’s parents that the milk feed probably caused his death, with consultant paediatrician and allergist expert Donald Hodge saying there was no sign of pneumonia and the post-mortem findings “have no relationship to the events of Jonnie’s death”.

Andreas Marnerides, a paediatric pathologist, also said he found evidence in Jonnie’s lungs of an allergic reaction, which he said had caused Jonnie’s death and had been brought on by the milk feed trial.

Yesterday at the High Court, Lord Justice Hamblen, sitting with Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, quashed the original verdict, adding: “In the circumstances, we are satisfied that it is necessary and desirable for a new inquest to be heard.”

The application was made by Cannock Chase Clinical Commissioning Group, on behalf of Jonnie’s parents John Meek and April Keeling. The CCG also commissioned the earlier independent review of the case by expert Martin Farrier, who recommended a new inquest be held.

Jonnie’s parents have always maintained their son, who was born with the rare congenital disability de Grouchy syndrome, died after suffering a severe allergic reaction.

An initial investigation by the former Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, led by the head of children’s services Kim Wooliscroft, said Jonnie’s death was a sudden “unexpected decline” but there was no evidence of a reaction to the feed. This was accepted by a child death overview panel which also received the misleading statement said to be from Ms Tew.

Ms Wooliscroft sat on the child death overview panel that considered Jonnie’s case.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Meek found multiple inaccurate claims about his son’s care and death in the trust’s records. One statement referred to Jonnie having cardiac arrests and needing to be resuscitated while another said he was admitted to hospital months before his death and was critically ill. His parents say these events never happened.

Julie Bailey, who campaigned to expose the poor care at Stafford Hospital along with members of the Cure the NHS group, supported Jonnie’s parents.

No date has been set for the new inquest.