THE family court judge who ruled that Elsie Scully-Hicks could be adopted by a fitness instructor who murdered her should publish the reasoning behind the decision, a campaigner says.

Former Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming says the judge who decided that Elsie could live with Matthew Scully-Hicks, and husband Craig Scully-Hicks, following private family court hearings should make all rulings public.

Matthew Scully-Hicks, 31, is serving a minimum 18-year sentence after being convicted of murdering 18-month-old Elsie at their home in Llandaff, Cardiff, in May 2016.

Elsie, then in the care of social services bosses at The Vale of Glamorgan Council, was placed with the couple in September 2015, when nine months old, and her adoption approved 13 days before she died.

Evidence has emerged which shows that during that nine-month period Elsie was twice taken to hospital, after suffering a leg injury and a suspected head injury, and had a bruise on her forehead and developed a squint.

Mr Hemming, who campaigns for improvements in the family justice system, says questions have to be asked as to why Elsie's adoption was approved and the public has a right to know the reasoning behind the decision.

"A family court judge must have decided that Elsie could be placed for adoption in September 2015," said Mr Hemming.

"A family court judge, maybe the same judge, maybe a different judge, must have approved the adoption in May 2016.

"There must have been hearings, evidence and rulings.

"The name of the judge or judges involved and their rulings should be made public.

"There are clearly questions which need to be answered given that Elsie suffered injuries in the nine months before her death.

"What evidence did the judge who approved the adoption have? What evidence was not made available? What did social services staff know?"

He added: "The priority is not to point the finger blame but to learn lessons and make sure other children are protected.

"Making rulings public can only inform debate, help professionals and family court judges learn lessons and protect children.

"What reason can there be for not publishing?"

Scully-Hicks was born in Cornwall, where he lived with his parents and elder sister until he was 16 when he and moved to Swindon when he was 16.

In 2003 he started work at the Oasis Leisure Centre, where he worked his way up from assistant to pool-side lifeguard, and finally to operations manager.

He left in 2011, having met future husband and nightclub owner Craig Scully-Hicks in Swindon in 2006. The couple began a relationship in 2008 and moved to South Wales.