A campaign to get justice for a baby who died after allegedly being sexually assaulted by her father has been launched by a regional daily.
The North West Evening Mail is calling on readers to join up to its ‘Justice for Poppi’ petition, in a bid to reopen a criminal investigation into the death of 13-month-old Poppi Worthington.
Poppi collapsed with serious injuries at her home in December 2012 and died. She was later found to have a historic leg injury and injuries consistent with a sexual assault.
But a High Court family judge found on Tuesday that Cumbria Police conducted no “real” investigation for nine months, because senior detectives thought a pathologist “may have jumped to conclusions” in her belief the child had been a victim of abuse.
Mr Justice Peter Jackson has now ruled that 48-year-old Paul Worthington – on the balance of probabilities – “perpetrated a penetrative… assault” on his daughter.
Mr Worthington, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested in August 2013 and questioned on suspicion of sexual assault but was not charged with any offence.
A criminal investigation will not reopen unless new evidence comes to light, but the Barrow-based Evening Mail is now petitioning the government to reconsider this.
The campaign was launched on its front page yesterday under the headline ‘Baby Rapist.’
The wording of an initial petition, launched by editor James Higgins, was later amended by the government to remove any reference to Paul Worthington.
The new wording reads: “Baby Poppi Worthington died in 2012. The police investigation was an abject failure as highlighted by Mr Justice Peter Jackson.
“There have been well-documented failings in this case at every step. Evidence was not gathered at the scene of the assault. Some was thrown away as police officers stood by. It made the case hard to prosecute and therefore the Crown Prosecution Service could not sanction charges being brought.
“We want an independent inquiry to find out what happened.”
James told HTFP: “We have launched the gov.co.uk petition calling for in independent inquiry to get answers. How was Poppi failed in such a catastrophic manner? Why have those agencies which failed her not been held properly to account?
“It seems lessons which should have been learned from the tragedies of Baby P and Victoria Climbié simply have not. And that isn’t good enough.
“We will also separately push for a new police enquiry, or at the very least for the CPS to review their evidence.”