Ellie Butler murder ruling to be released

Ellie and Ben Butler Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Ben Butler was found guilty of murdering his daughter in June

A secret ruling about the case of a man convicted of murdering his six-year-old daughter, 11 months after she returned to his care, is to be published.

Ben Butler, 36, was given a minimum 23-year jail term for inflicting catastrophic head injuries upon Ellie in the family's Sutton home in 2013.

The Court of Appeal ordered the 2014 judgement should be made public following a court challenge.

It was also revealed Butler has appealed against his conviction.

The original ruling was made by Mrs Justice Eleanor King following a behind-closed-doors hearing at the High Court which took place after Ellie had died, but before the murder trial.

Mrs Justice King had been asked to make "findings of fact" about the case by Sutton children's services, who wanted help to decide the future of Ellie's younger sibling.

The family court judge concluded that on the balance of probabilities, Butler had been "responsible for Ellie's death" and she had suffered a fractured skull.

However, the full judgement was not revealed.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Ellie Butler had been living with grandparents before she was returned to her family home
Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Ben Butler was jailed for shaking Ellie when she was a baby but the verdict was quashed

Last month, another family court judge, Mrs Justice Pauffley, rejected an application from media organisations to reveal the judgement, saying it could prejudice any re-trial if Butler mounted an appeal.

But three Court of Appeal judges ruled the details could be released, although redactions would have to be made first.

Editors from the Guardian, Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times newspapers and bosses from the BBC, ITN and Sky News had argued publication of the case was in the public interest.

It is thought the judgement will be released next week.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The six-year-old died 11 months after she returned to her father's care

Butler was jailed in June for murder and child cruelty.

According to legal documents, his solicitors lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence on 13 July.

Ellie's mother, Jennie Gray, was jailed for 42 months after being found guilty of child cruelty and admitting perverting the course of justice.

Next week, a coroner will decide whether to resume the inquest into Ellie's death.

Her grandfather, Neal Gray, who she lived with for several years before being returned to her parents, has called for a public inquiry.

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