The mother of one of the victims of the morgue rapist, David Fuller, is campaigning for the boss of the hospital where Fuller serially abused corpses undetected for 12 years to resign.
The body of Azra Kemal was raped three times in July 2020 in the morgue of Tunbridge Wells hospital by Fuller, a hospital electrician, who is known to have violated at least 100 corpses between 2008 and 2010.
Nevres Kemal, a key whistleblower in the Baby P scandal in Haringey in 2007, is furious about what happened to her daughter and is demanding the resignation of Miles Scott, the chief executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge NHS trust. “Scott needs to go,” she said. “That man must not wait to be thrown out, he needs to walk.”
At a meeting she had with Scott, she says he admitted that he was responsible for what goes on at the trust – an account supported by another hospital official present. She said: “Accountability starts with the man at the top. He is responsible, but he doesn’t want to lose his fancy job.”
Last week, the government bowed to calls by Kemal and others to hold a public inquiry into what went wrong, and replaced an internal inquiry by the trust with an independent inquiry, chaired by Sir Jonathan Michael.
Kemal said: “They were pushed into holding a public inquiry – how can an organisation investigate itself over something that is so horrendous?”
She said the issues involved were relatively straightforward. “I want to know how on Earth they could let it happen, but there’s a simple answer – they didn’t check security. Why aren’t the dead afforded proper security that is checked? He [Fuller] went into the morgue thousands of times – that obviously should have raised alarms.”
Kemal is jaded by her experience 14 years ago at Haringey, when as a social worker she warned the council and the government that Baby P was not being properly protected, six months before he died. Instead of acting on her concerns, the council issued an injunction against Kemal banning her from speaking about childcare.
“I don’t trust any system any more after the Baby P debacle,” she said. “It’s always the same with every bloody inquiry: either you have to push people out or it becomes so obvious that they just have to go.”
She added: “It doesn’t matter what Sir Jonathan or Sir whatever says. I’ll be calling for Scott to go. I’ll do it with a megaphone.”
Kemal, who is being supported by the Centre for Women’s Justice, is determined for the views of families of the victims to be the main focus of the inquiry. “Ordinary voices of the families of the victims are not heard, and that has to change.”
She also wants to see sentences for necrophilia increased from the current maximum of two years to a minimum of 10 years in jail.
The extent of Fuller’s abuse only emerged earlier this month after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and murdering Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce in Tunbridge Wells in 1987.
Kemal never uses Fuller’s name. “I call him ‘insignificant’ because I don’t want to call him by his name.” She was reading about his trial as she travelled home on 9 October, the day police told her how Azra’s body had been violated. “I was reading about the bedsit murders on the train, and within a couple of hours the insignificant had entered my life.”
Azra, who worked for Sky News and was about to train as a lawyer, was killed in July last year after falling through a gap in a motorway bridge over the Medway while fleeing from a burning car.
October’s visit by two female officers reminded Kemal of being told of her daughter’s death. When she was told Azra had been raped three times in the morgue, Kemal said “all hell broke loose – I can’t describe the rage I felt”.
She was informed that the first assault happened hours before she had been to see her daughter in the mortuary. “She didn’t look at peace and now I know why,” she said.
Kemal, who was speaking on what would have been Azra’s 26th birthday, said her daughter would have wanted her to speak out. “She never kept her mouth shut, so I’m determined to fight for Azra. People don’t like speaking about death, never mind raping the dead, because it taps into people’s fears. But I have to speak up.”
She added: “I may be seen as a nobody, but I’m Azra’s mum and that’s a somebody. The proudest thing in my life was to be mum to Azra.”
Maidstone and Tunbridge NHS trust referred to a statement issued by Scott earlier this month in which he apologised to the families of Fuller’s victims and said he was “determined to see if there are any lessons to be learned or systems to be improved”.