Kings College London is offering Coroners and lawyers the opportunity to join the ‘enormously popular’ ‘Coroners and Inquests’ course delivered by the former Chief Coroner, HH Peter Thornton QC

The course will consist of a series of five interactive seminars in November and December which will explain and discuss the law and procedure of coroners, covering a comprehensive range of topics from reporting deaths, investigating cases, conducting inquests and reports to prevent future deaths. Participants will be expected to participate in discussion and give short presentations. They will consider the importance of the role played by coroners in the administration of justice: Who are they? What do they do? What is the purpose of their work? How should they do it?

Further details can be found and how to apply can be found here.

 

The University of Bolton Coronial Law Course is a pioneering and unique series of professional development lectures delivered in partnership with the School of Law. 

A series of lectures, seminars and a mock inquest will presented on a number of dates in 2019 by experts in Coronial Law.  

The course is held in Bolton and Sheffield - further details are on the flyer attached here.   

For further information contact:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For the first time, the Coroners Society of England and Wales has invited fellow professionals who are not coroners to attend on the Friday of its Annual Conference – 27 September 2019 held in Essex.

A programme including eminent speakers will address ‘Responding to the challenge of terrorism’. The meeting will be of interest to lawyers, doctors, pathologists, police, and others.  The programme can be seen here with the booking form here.

All enquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Supreme Court have this week heard the appeal in the matter of Hugh Jordan, considering whether a claim under HRA 1998 alleging a breach of the requirement for a prompt investigation of a death contrary to Art 2 ECHR can be brought before the inquest has finally concluded.  Ian Skelt of Serjeants' Inn is junior counsel to the NI Coroner.   

The Chief Coroner, HHJ Mark Lucraft QC, is holding the Inquests into the deaths of the four victims of the Westminster Bridge attack and the Police Officer killed within the Palace of Westminster in March 2017.

Sebastian Naughton of Serjeants’ Inn Chambers is representing one of the NHS Trusts who provided care to victims of the attack.  The inquest transcripts are publicly available here .

Bridget Dolan QC and Michael Walsh have been advising the Senior Coroner for Preston and Lancashire on the legal aspects of setting up an innovative, radiologist-led, non-invasive post mortem “digital autopsy” service in Lancashire, as described in this article from the Health Service Journal.

Innovations in post-mortem scanning techniques, including the use of targeted coronary angiography,  mean that a technique that was in the past mainly used as an adjunct to a traditional autopsy examination can now wholly replace the need for evisceration of the body. [1] [2]  As CT scanning alone can now provide a cause of death in 90% of cases this has now become the first-line investigation for coronial post mortem examinations in Lancashire.   

In co-operation between the local NHS Trusts, the Local Authority and a private provider, this "free at point of delivery" digital autopsy service is staffed by NHS personnel (including consultant radiologists & pathologists, specialist forensic radiographers and specially trained APTs). The service  is provided at a less than cost or cost neutral expenditure when compared to traditional post-mortems.   In the first three months of operation, over 90 per cent of scans established the cause of death thereby avoiding 415 invasive post-mortems.

The comfort and benefit delivered to bereaved families by the knowledge that an accurate cause of death has been identified without resorting to evisceration of the body is considerable and not to be underestimated.

 

[1]        Diagnostic accuracy of post-mortem CT with targeted coronary angiography versus autopsy for coroner-requested post-mortem investigations: a prospective, masked, comparison study. Rutty et al, Lancet 2017; 390: 145–54.

[2]   Postmortem CT Angiography Compared with Autopsy: A Forensic Multicenter Study.  Grabherr et al.  May [2018] Radiology  https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/10.1148/radiol.2018170559    

On 7 March 2018 Katie Gollop QC gave oral evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights in support of the provision of public funding for families at inquests.   

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/

A briefing paper provided to assist the committee, which was prepared by Katie in consultation with some other barristers from Serjeants' Inn chambers, is reproduced below

All barristers at Serjeants’ Inn Chambers are independent, self-employed, sole practitioners. For that reason, Serjeants’ Inn does not have a collective view and the views expressed here are personal. That said, a number of barristers (including two who sit as Assistant Coroners) have contributed thoughts and/or provided examples of inquests (see the appendix at the end) that inform the question: are human rights being enforced in the coronial justice system?

IF THE DECEASED IS BEYOND JUSTICE, WHY DOES AN INQUEST MATTER?

  1. Inquests, properly conducted and where the conclusions are heeded by those with the power to effect change, save lives.

  2. They hold organisations and individuals to account publicly. They expose wrongdoing by the state. They identify and record the facts.

  3. In so doing, inquests:
    1. enable next of kin to understand what happened. And having understood, to grieve.
    2. dispel rumours and conspiracies.
    3. promote public confidence in state agencies – that there was no wrongdoing or that lessons have been learned so no one else will die in the same circumstances.

  1. Lives are saved by the inquest:
    1. Identifying defective systems, policies and procedures.
    2. Identifying individual and organisational practice that is lacking.
    3. Reporting areas where change is required to prevent future deaths.
    4. Providing publicly available information about the circumstances of deaths so that patterns and clusters can be seen.

His Honour Peter Rook QC has decided to hear the forthcoming inquest into the death of Sean Benton without a jury. Private Benton died from gunshot wounds at Deepcut Barracks in 1995, the first of four deaths at the barracks that have caused enduring public interest and led to numerous investigations. The original inquest, which took place only weeks after his death, was quashed by the High Court in 2016 and new hearings will begin in January 2018.

His Honour Peter Rook QC, formerly Senior Circuit Judge at the Old Bailey, was appointed as Nominated Coroner by the Lord Chief Justice. He was invited by the family of Sean Benton to exercise his discretion to hear the fresh inquest with a jury. His detailed reasons have been published and will be of interest to inquest practitioners, especially those working in military deaths and in cases likely to attract press coverage. They can be viewed here.

Bridget Dolan QC and Jamie Mathieson are instructed as Counsel to the inquest. John Beggs QC and Cecily White have been instructed for the inquest on behalf of Surrey Police, and Paul Spencer of Serjeants' Inn Chambers is instructed to represent a medical professional working at the barracks.

His Hon Peter Rook, Q.C. has appointed Bridget Dolan QC and Jamie Mathieson as Counsel to the Inquest into the death of Private Geoff Gray. This is the third fresh inquest into a death of a trainee at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey.  It follows the inquests into the deaths of Ms Cheryl James and Mr Sean Benton.

The inquest hearings will commence in 2019.  At the next pre-inquest review hearing, which will be held on Friday 20th July 2018, the judge will hear the family's application for a jury.

His Hon Peter Rook, Q.C. has appointed Bridget Dolan QC and Jamie Mathieson as Counsel to the Inquest into the death of Private Sean Benton. This is the second fresh inquest into a death of a trainee at Deepcut Barracks, Surrey in 1995.

The inquest is listed to commence in 2018.  At a pre-inquest review hearing held on Friday 16th June 2017 the judge set out the scope of the inquest which can be found  here