A NURSING regulator hired a top criminal barrister to conduct a review of the way it handled the case of a baby deaths midwife in a report it has kept secret for six months.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council spent its funds on the services of Queen's Counsel Tom Kark - the leading lawyer involved in the Mid Staffordshire care scandal inquiry - to look into the way it dealt with 'musketeer midwife' Lindsey Biggs.

Ms Biggs, 38, from Dalton, was sacked from Furness General Hospital following the death of a baby in her care last year while she was waiting to be called to a disciplinary over the earlier death of baby Joshua Titcombe in 2008.

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So far, the NMC has refused to disclose the contents of the report - despite a request using Freedom of Information laws - stating it contains legal privilege.

It insists Mr Kark, who specialises in white-collar crime, including murders and fraud, found no evidence the NMC should have suspended Ms Biggs once they became aware of her case.

But an internal NMC document has now emerged showing the organisation could have released a redacted version of the report last year.

Bosses within the organisation simply chose to keep it under wraps.

An email from NMC director of fitness to practice, Sarah Paige, stated: "It is covered by legal privilege, as between Tom Kark and the NMC, but we could waive this if we wanted to disclose it in full."

A spokesman for the NMC said its chief executive, Jackie Smith, was aware of the decision not to release the report.

They added: "In this case, the information requested contained privileged legal advice and personal data relating to other individuals which would be inappropriate to be in the public domain."

The NMC attracted criticism last year when it halted its publication of allegations against nurses and midwives facing disciplinary hearings.

However, it has confirmed it is committed to transparency with the launch of an external 'lessons learnt' review of the way it handled the cases of midwives involved in the Morecambe Bay maternity scandal.

Last month, the NMC was found to have monitored the grieving father of baby Joshua, James Titcombe, for several years as he attempted to secure justice for his son.

Internal documents obtained by Mr Titcombe revealed they had kept tabs on his social media activity and speaking engagements as well as setting up a Google alert on his name.

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