CAMPAIGNERS have failed in their last-ditch bid to win a public inquiry into the Richard Neale scandal.

It means that after a lengthy fight for justice members of the campaign group will be forced to rely on the findings of an internal NHS inquiry, rather than the full public inquiry they sought.

The Court of Appeal refused permission last Thursday to the campaign group to appeal for a public inquiry into the Neale affair.

The group believed that such an inquiry was the only way to get to the bottom of why the surgeon was allowed to carry on operating for so long, despite being struck off in Canada after the death of two patients.

In a statement, Lord Justice Laws said he refused the request because he was satisfied at the reasons given by Lord Justice Scott Baker at the original hearing in February.

Sheila Wright-Hogeland, one of the founders of the campaign group, which represents 250 victims of the former Northallerton surgeon, said: "We wanted the injured former patients, the families of the deceased patients, and the British public finally to know the full truth. Now we shall never know."

Mrs Wright-Hogeland thanked everybody who had given the group their unwavering support, including members of Parliament from all parties.

She criticised the Government for promoting a no-blame culture which she argued amounted to "no responsibility for one's actions".

The British people did not deserve to have the country run this way, she said.

In the same way, she said, Neale's victims did not deserve the 'shabby and unjust treatment' they had received at the hands of the Government in denying them a public inquiry.

The Department of Health has successfully argued in the courts that an NHS investigation chaired by an independent figure was the most appropriate way to investigate the issues raised by the Neale case.