Opposing Secret Inquests with Government Appointed Coroners and no Juries.


Wednesday, March 19th, 2008. 10:33pm

David Howarth (Cambridge MP),

I would like to urge you to remove clause 64 and 65 of the Counter-Terrorism Bill which proposes to introduce inquests in secret, without juries and enable the appointment of special Government appointed coroners.

I believe coroners ought to be trusted fulfill their role with integrity and it is necessary for coroners to have a degree of independence from the Government and be free to critisise the Government when they feel it is appropriate.

There are already mechanisms though which coroners can ensure material which material which should not be disclosed publicly is not; and any evidence not pertinent to the inquest is inadmissible in any case. I’d like to see more openness, not less, why can’t all inquests be as public as that of Diana and Dodi Al Fayed is with all material published online: http://www.scottbaker-inquests.gov.uk/ we can see there exactly what steps are taken by the Government to keep material they don’t want to disclose secret with the agreement of the coroner, that appears to be working.

I think it is important for inquests to fulfill their function of finding out how people died and thereby allowing improvements to be made to prevent more deaths in similar circumstances for them to be held in public.

I can see the BBC is reporting that you as a member of the Commons Justice Committee are already on the case, but thought support from a constituent would help.

Please do not feel obliged to spend time and money replying to me, I am happy to have simply had the opportunity to make my opinion known to you and to have added my voice to those urging you to act on this matter.

Richard Taylor
Cambridge

2 comments/updates on “Opposing Secret Inquests with Government Appointed Coroners and no Juries.

  1. Richard Article author

    Today (15th May 2009) Jack Straw has made a written ministerial statement on the subject of secret inquests.

    It says that in circumstances in which there is sensitive information the Government may insist an “inquiry” is held instead of an inquest.

    The relevant section reads:

    Where it is not possible to proceed with an inquest under the current arrangements, the Government will consider establishing an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to ascertain the circumstances the deceased came by his or her death.

    This is being spun on the news as being a positive step responding to those of us who have campaigned against secret inquests. However retaining the provision to not hold (complete?) an inquest at all does not appear to me to fully address the concerns as ministers can restrict public access to inquiries.

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