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Nottingham victims’ families say Rishi Sunak has not ruled out public inquiry

The Government has not ruled out a public inquiry into alleged missed opportunities to stop triple killer Valdo Calocane before he stabbed three people to death, the father of one of the victims has said.

The 32-year-old stabbed students Barnaby Webber, 19, Grace O’Malley-Kumar, 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, with a dagger in Nottingham in the early hours of June 13 last year.

Last week, the killer was given a hospital order for manslaughter by diminished responsibility after the city’s crown court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Mr Webber’s family called the hospital order a “huge insult”.

It has emerged that police failed to arrest Calocane for allegedly attacking two people weeks before the stabbings.

A special review has also been ordered into the mental health trust that treated him before the killings.

Rishi Sunak has previously declined to back calls for a public inquiry but it emerged on Monday night that he told the victims’ families at a meeting in Downing Street that he had not ruled one out.

Mr Webber’s father David said: “We did get an assurance from the Prime Minister himself that if it’s required, they’re not ruling out a public inquiry, and they will do a public inquiry.”

Ms O’Malley-Kumar’s brother James said: “We’re not in a rush. We’ve lost our loved ones now, we’ve lost Grace, we’ve lost Ian (Coates), we’ve lost Barnaby (Webber) – we want (an investigation into the attacks) to be as thorough as possible to make sure those gaps are filled and the relevant people have been held accountable.

Valdo Calocane court case
Ian Coates, Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

“The Prime Minister said that there are plenty of options that could be taken (including) the public inquiry.”

Mr Coates’s son James said there had been failings by “all the different agencies” involved in dealing with his father’s killer.

He said: “They all need looking into, obviously this is just the start.

“I do feel listened to, I think we’ve spoke to the right people that can push this in the right direction, we now just have to wait.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as it’s done properly – it has to be deep, it has to be detailed, it has to be independent. So we can get results, and everyone else can get results, because at the end of the day there’s a lot more people out there.”

Valdo Calocane court case
Valdo Calocane (Nottinghamshire Police/PA)

Miss O’Malley-Kumar’s father Dr Sanjoy Kumar added: “We have concerns about the police and how they investigated, we have concerns about the CPS and how the case was built, we have concerns about what happened in the custody suite and samples not being taken, and the mental health trust.

“I can’t see how all of these agencies can be covered without something really comprehensive.

“I think it will be something like an inquiry in my mind. There is going to have to be something really umbrella-like.”

The families also said they were “glad to have the opportunity” to speak with the Prime Minister.

The healthcare watchdog has been asked to report by March on its findings in an investigation into the care Calocane received at Nottinghamshire Healthcare Foundation Trust before the killings.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, announcing the Care Quality Commission (CQC) review, said it will provide quicker answers for the families of victims than a public inquiry.

However, Mr Webber’s parents told BBC Breakfast a review would be just a “toe in the water” and “not enough” as they called for a full public inquiry.

David Webber said he and his wife were “horrified” there were no plans for an inquiry.

The families met Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at the party’s London headquarters earlier on Monday.

Valdo Calocane court case
Sir Keir Starmer met the victims’ families (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Webber’s parents have said they want to speak with Janine McKinney from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Mrs Webber told ITV’s Good Morning Britain she was “aghast” at the opening statements from the prosecution barrister in court last week, adding: “I will never accept anything other than Barnaby was murdered.”

She also believes there were “no obvious” signs of psychosis from Calocane on the day of the attack, and told of her concerns that he could be released if he responds well to treatment in hospital.

Judge Mr Justice Turner said Calocane will “very probably” be detained in a high-security hospital for the rest of his life as he sentenced him for the “atrocious” killings, as well as the attempted murder of three other people.

The Attorney General is considering whether judges should review the sentence after receiving a submission that it could be unduly lenient.

Asked why the Government had not set up a public inquiry, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We haven’t ruled out further action at this stage. There is already work going on across Government.”