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Freed nurse remains suspended

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) will continue to impose an interim suspension order on the nurse released from jail over saline poisoning claims.

Rebecca Leighton was freed on Friday (2 September) when charges were dropped against her. She spent six weeks in prison accused of the murders of three patients at Stepping Hill Hospital, where she worked as an acting sister. 

Her fingerprint on a saline bottle pierced by a needle was the only evidence against Leighton. Police interviewed 200 medical staff, patients and visitors and are set to quiz a further 500. 

Police believe the poisoner injected tiny pre-sealed plastic bottles of saline drip with lethal insulin. 

"The NMC is aware of the developments in the case of Rebecca Leighton, and her release without criminal charge," said the NMC in a statement.

"The interim order suspending Ms Leighton from the NMC's register, which was imposed on 2 August 2011, will remain in place at present.

"We will continue to liaise with Stockport NHS Foundation Trust to carry out our own investigations, and establish whether further action needs to be taken."

Leighton's solicitor Carl Richmond said yesterday (4 September) that Leighton had been used as a "scapegoat" because there was "absolute chaos at the hospital and it could not function because of all the speculation."

"I was imploring the police to bail her while they continued their inquiries but the decision was made to charge," said Richmond.

"They jumped the gun though, and tried to build the case against her from there rather than the usual method of bailing her pending further inquiries."

Nursing and Midwifery Council

We asked if you think Rebecca Leighton has been used as a scapegoat. Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I don't think we know all the facts. The prescription drugs found in her home require an explanation. Patient care must come first" - Sue, Manchester

"Definitely yes. They have yet to prove her guilty! In the interim she continues to be treated as a 'pariah'! As long as she remains suspended, a mark will always continue to hang over her! Allow her to go back to work under supervision!" - Bhuuvan

"I was under the impression that in this country you were innocent until proved guilty. There is no reason at all for this nurse's suspension and it's a total disgrace that the police jailed this girl without concrete evidence which has allowed the press a field day. I live in Bristol, I remember how an innocent retired teacher had his life ruined by the press last Xmas by this sort of speculation, only to find out a few weeks later
the murderer was someone else" - Helen, Bristol

"It would appear so but why were her fingerprints on the bottle and were they on the other IVs too? If there is no evidence why is she still suspended? Are you suggesting her guilt but cannot prove it?" - June Warriner, London

"Without a doubt. What further action is there to take the charges have been dropped. Will it never end for this poor girl and her family" - Dorothy Sherry, Essex

"Nurses are notoriously the first to be blamed when things go wrong. To name Rebecca before adequate substantial evidence is available was wrong and this system needs to be reviewed. Once labelled Rebecca will find it almost impossible to continue nursing. If innocent this will be a great injustice. Three years training and countless money down the drain. For what?" - Angela, Manchester

"It is apparent that this is yet another bungled investigation and the 'weakest link' has been scapegoated even before the full investigation has been conducted. It is frightening to be a nurse these days with the demand being put on nurses and yet when things go wrong they are the first to be pointed at, and blamed and sometimes without proof. I will not like to be
a nurse in that hospital, especially at this point in time when everybody is suspect. Can you imagine the damage that has been done to the young woman? Not to talk of the nursing profession as a whole. This mess needs to be mopped-up and very neatly for that matter" - Paul Ekwuruke, London

"The police needed a name and fast, so they charged her in the hope that more evidence may appear - is this a bit backwards or what! Sadly the whole investigation will be in tatters as staff are now frightened to speak to the detectives in case they get 'fitted up' (awful phrase but it fits!)" - Simon Chelling, Yorkshire 

"As a forensic evidence fact, whilst you can accurately detect a
fingerprint on an object, you cannot state WHEN it got there. It could have been there for minutes, days, weeks or even months. A forensic and scientific fact that both the police and the CPS knew, so how did that manage to get this poor young women put into prison?" - Penny Mellor, Staffordshire

"Absolutely, you can just hear people whispering the name 'Allit' all over this story, profiling her postings on Facebook as being something out of the ordinary, publishing pictures of her posing amongst the many OTHER pictures there were. My FOI application is already with the CPS, did they take advice regarding the profile of an alleged serial killer and did the
phrase Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy come up ..... My bet is that it did, as yet unspoken, but written all over the entire case!" - Penny Mellor, Staffordshire