A fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of three infants will finally get underway in January following repeated delays.

Sheriff Principal Aisha Anwar said it was "incredibly important that we press ahead" as a preliminary hearing today agreed the timetable for hearings into the deaths of babies Leo Lamont, Ellie McCormick and Mirabelle Bosch.

The inquiry, which will be held at Glasgow Sheriff Court, will open on January 9 and is expected to conclude on March 1.

READ MORE: Neonatal deaths investigated at health board facing FAI inquiry

In July 2022, the Crown Office announced that an FAI would be held because all three infants had passed away in "circumstances giving rise to serious public concern", adding that the inquiry would "seek to establish whether there is learning that could minimise the risk of future death in similar circumstances".

The Herald: Sheriff Principal Aisha AnwarSheriff Principal Aisha Anwar (Image: Scottish Courts Service)

Clinical staff from NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are due to give evidence along with Jim Ward, the medical director of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Leo Lamont was born on February 15 2019, Ellie McCormick on March 4 2019, and Mirabelle Bosch on July 2 2021.

No further details in relation to where, when or how they died have been made public, although the parents of Mirabelle - Eckhardt and Rozelle Bosch - described her experiences as "traumatic" in an online message last year when they were fundraising £5000 for their legal costs.

The FAI was initially scheduled to take place over four weeks beginning in May this year, but the timetable was subsequently was pushed back to an August 15 start date.

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However, that was also scrapped following a request from counsel for an additional supplementary report to be carried out addressing questions surrounding the death of Leo Lamont.

Both the original expert report and the supplementary report have been prepared for the inquiry by consultant obstetrician, Dr Rhona Hughes, the doctor who delivered former Prime Minister Gordon Brown's son, John, in 2003 at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Two additional witnesses - both midwives - have also been ordered to provide evidence to the inquiry.

The legal team representing NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had submitted a motion seeking to delay the start of the FAI again due to diary clashes in January.

However, this motion has now been dropped after it emerged that the mother of Leo Lamout - Nadine Rooney - is pregnant with a due date of late March or early April.

The Herald: The inquiry will hear evidence from witnesses from NHS Glasgow, Lanarkshire and the ambulance service (stock photo)The inquiry will hear evidence from witnesses from NHS Glasgow, Lanarkshire and the ambulance service (stock photo) (Image: PA)

James McConnell, representing NHS GGC, said it was possible that solicitors for the health board will have to instruct new counsel if he remains unavailable in January, but that the news of Ms Rooney's pregnancy "had put a rather different spin on delaying matters further" and a postponement was no longer being sought.

Counsel for the Scottish Ambulance Service indicated that they were also unable to attend the FAI's planned dates in the new year, and that alternative advocates may have to step in.

Sheriff Principal Anwar said she was not minded to set new dates.

She said: "I regret that we are dealing with families who have tragically lost three children and now we have the news of the pregnancy of one of the mothers who has been involved - I think it is incredibly important that we press ahead."

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The preliminary hearing was told by Mr McConnell that Dr Hughes' initial report to the inquiry "potentially criticised a number of clinicians".

He said: "The supplementary documentation has been very helpful in that it narrows the focus down to Dr Vezza."

He added that the medic - understood to be a Dr Carolann Vezza - is currently on maternity leave, due to return to work in May 2024.

Catherine Smith, acting for NHS Lanarkshire, raised concerns over the use in court proceedings of BadgerNet - an online records system used in perinatal care.

She said there was "massive, massive anxiety" among her clients that a live demonstration of the software in court carried a high risk that medical data for patients not involved in the inquiry would be accidentally displayed.

Pre-recorded videos for the relevant BadgerNet patient records will now be prepared instead for use during the FAI.