Family of murdered school girl Elsie Frost win High Court bid for new inquest into her death

Wednesday 17 April 2019

Garden Court’s Anna Morris is representing Colin Frost, brother of Elsie Frost, instructed by Gemma Vine at Minton Morrill. 

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The family of Elsie Frost, murdered more than 50 years ago, has won a High Court bid for a fresh inquest into her death. Last year the Attorney General said there was new evidence that had not been heard at the original inquest in 1966.

Elsie Frost was murdered on her way home from her sister’s house in Wakefield, West Yorkshire in October 1965. She was 14 years-old at the time. No-one has been successfully prosecuted for her murder.

West Yorkshire Police had confirmed that convicted child murderer Peter Pickering was expected to be charged with Elsie’s murder, but he died in 2018. Mr Frost and his sister Anne Cleave persuaded West Yorkshire Police to reopen the case in 2015 and new evidence was uncovered, which pointed to Pickering.

The inquest in 1966 named a local man Ian Bernard Spencer as Elsie’s killer and under the law at that time, the Coroner had the power to send an accused for trial before the criminal courts. However, the criminal courts found that he had no case to answer and dismissed all charges against him.  Despite this fact, the formal public record from the Coroner’s proceedings in 1966 continues to name Mr. Spencer as Elsie’s murderer.

Lawyers for the family argued the evidence relating to Elsie’s case would remain hidden without a new inquest and it was needed to correct the record about Ian Bernard Spencer. The court heard that without a new inquest, the family could never know what happened to Elsie.

Senior judge Lord Justice Irwin, sitting with Mr Justice Jay, said the court's reasons for its judgment would be given at a later date.

The case has been widely reported by ITV News, BBC News and Telegraph.

Anna Morris is a member of Garden Court Chambers' Inquests and Inquiries team.

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