Murdered Wakefield schoolgirl Elsie Frost's family can apply for fresh inquest more than 50-years after killing

Elsie Frost
Elsie Frost

The family of  murdered Wakefield schoolgirl Elsie Frost has today been given  permission to apply to the High Court for a fresh inquest into the circumstances surrounding her death  more than 50-years after she was killed.

Elsie, 14, was stabbed to death on her way home from her sister’s house on October 9 1965.

An inquest took place between January 4 and 11 1966 when the coroner recorded a verdict that Elsie had died of multiple stab wounds and had been murdered by Ian Bernard Spencer.

Today (Dec 20) Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC MP, said: “Having considered the application, I have given consent to the family of Elsie Frost to apply to the High Court for a new

inquest into her death.

“I am satisfied that there is new evidence available that was not put before the previous inquest, and I believe that it is in the interests of justice for the application for a new inquest to be

heard by the High Court.”

In October, Elsie Frost's siblings kickstarted a legal drive for a new inquest into her death so the public can finally learn the truth about what happened and the family can get “closure”.

Colin Frost and Anne Cleave travelled to Westminster on the 53rd anniversary of Elsie’s death to personally deliver a memorandum to Attorney General Geoffrey Cox that they hope will

result in the “incorrect” 1966 inquest, which blamed the killing on the wrong man, being quashed.

Mr Frost, 59, said only a new inquest would give the family “closure” in one of Britain’s longest running unsolved murder cases.

Elsie, 14, was attacked from behind and stabbed in the back and head as she walked through a railway tunnel off a canal towpath in Wakefield in October 1965.

Detectives had been reinvestigating her murder since 2016 and were preparing to charge convicted child killer and rapist Peter Pickering.

But the 80-year-old, known as the Beast of Wombwell, died in March after being taken ill in the secure psychiatric accommodation in Berkshire where he was held for more than 45 years.

In the week before his death, Pickering was found guilty of the violent rape of an 18-year-old woman in Sheffield in 1972.

The crime only came to light as a result of the cold case investigation into Elsie’s murder by West Yorkshire Police.

The family praised the force’s work and said a new inquest was needed.

The Attorney General has the authority to decide whether an application can be made to the High Court for a new inquest to be opened.

He has no power to order a new coronial inquest himself.

A new inquest can only be ordered by the High Court on an application made either by the Attorney or by a third party with the consent of the Attorney.

Before an application can be made, the Attorney must be satisfied that there is a reasonable prospect that the court would be persuaded to open a new inquest.

These decisions are made as part of his public interest function, independently of Government and strictly on the basis of the evidence.

The Attorney concluded, in this case, that there was sufficient grounds of challenge set out in the applications to have a reasonable prospect of success.