An east London hospital trust has refused to release information about its recruitment of the boss who resigned from the hospital where Lucy Letby murdered seven babies.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) would not hand over the reference it received from the Countess of Chester Hospital before it hired Tony Chambers into its top job.

Mr Chambers was appointed interim chief executive of BHRUT in January 2020. The trust runs King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen’s Hospital in Romford, which has a busy maternity ward.

Mr Chambers quit the Countess of Chester trust in September 2018 – two months after Letby’s arrest.

The BBC was told by NHS England that its London region had not been aware of the murder investigation.

But when this paper asked BHRUT this week to turn over Mr Chambers’s reference from the Countess of Chester trust, it would not.

We have now demanded it under the Freedom of Information Act.

The BBC reported this week that Chambers claimed in a 2020 blog that he was persuaded to join BHRUT by Sir David Sloman, NHS England’s regional director for London.

“He’s been trying to persuade me to come and work in London for a number of years and I saw this as an opportunity to do something different,” he wrote.

Romford Recorder: Tony ChambersTony Chambers (Image: BHRUT)

He remained in post until August 2021.

The Recorder asked BHRUT for the names of all the people who sat on the panel which appointed Mr Chambers.

It did not supply them.

We have now filed Freedom of Information requests for minutes of the appointment panel’s meetings and copies of correspondence sent between its members.

A separate request was sent to NHS England for correspondence between Sir David Sloman and Mr Chambers.

BHRUT said: “Tony Chambers was offered the job of interim chief executive officer following a competitive process.

“The trust adhered to its fit and proper person policy and processes when it appointed Mr Chambers.”

NHS England previously said: “As regional director for London, Sir David Sloman was not aware of the events at the Countess of Chester when Tony Chambers was appointed.”

It added that there was now a national records system shared by all NHS organisations and “increased background checks” were in place when hiring.

Mr Chambers has said he will cooperate with an inquiry into the Letby case, saying: “I was open and inclusive as I responded to information and guidance.”