Abolition of Chief Coroner post slammed

19 October 2010 by

In August we commented on the risk that long-awaited reform of the coronial system would be shelved by the Ministry of Justice, arguing that the wait for promised reforms had left relatives of the dead in legal limbo.

To the dismay of campaigners, the new office of the Chief Coroner for England and Wales has fallen victim to the “bonfire of the quangos“.

The post was created by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, which the Ministry of Justice said aimed “to deliver more effective, transparent and responsive justice and coroner services for victims, witnesses, bereaved families and the wider public”.  In February, the previous Government heralded the post:

Working with the Ministry of Justice and those who work within the current coroners’ system, the Chief Coroner will help develop better coroner investigations and inquests, with higher and more consistent standards of service, and fewer unnecessary delays.

The post’s abolition was condemned by INQUEST, a charity which provides legal advice to bereaved people, with Co-Director Deborah Coles damning

a failure of vision and courage by the Coalition government.  The dysfunctional and flawed inquest system is in need of complete reform…The new model agreed by Parliament in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 is rendered completely hollow without the driving force and national leadership of a Chief Coroner.

INQUEST is due to meet Jonathan Djanogly MP, the Minister with responsibility for coroner reform, on 25 October.

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