Posts Tagged ‘Chief Coroner’

A chance to do the right thing

15/06/2011, 03:30:04 PM

by Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan and Jim Murphy

When the government does the right thing it is important that we support it, basing our judgement at all times on actions and not words. We are dismayed at the government’s decision, announced yesterday, to abolish the chief coroner’s office (CCO), a decision with damaging consequences for ordinary people up and down the country. We hope the government’s new-found capacity to listen will soon again be on show.

Legislation in 2009 received cross-party support in establishing a CCO, seeking to deal with some of the difficult issues that arise from complex fatalities through a system based on independent expertise. Tragically, it’s often military inquests which require such a service and this is therefore an issue close to the heart of many bereaved military families. But it’s not just families of military personnel who suddenly suffer tragedy that brings them into contact with the coronial system. Abolition of the CCO is opposed by various charities and organisations including CRY (cardiac risk in the young), which supports bereaved families who have lost loved ones suddenly through undetected cardiac problems. Sue Ainsworth, whose son Jonathan tragically died suddenly at the age of 21 last year, has joined CRY in calling for the creation of the CCO, following failings in the inquest held into Jonathan’s death. Sue said:

“Currently, the coroner is not answerable to anybody so if there’s any delays, and any inequalities in the system, you have not got any comeback at all”.

The job of a chief coroner is to ensure that families and friends of all victims are sufficiently involved in the coroner’s investigation; improve training; add quality controls and independent safeguards on inquests; and add consistency of oversight, leadership, independence and expertise to the coroners who are dealing with military inquests.

Establishing such a system is a central obligation under the military covenant, the bond between the nation, the state and the services which says that no member of the service community, including dependents, should suffer disadvantage arising from service and that special provision should at times be made to reflect their sacrifices. That is why, in government, we legislated for a coroner’s office. Scrapping it undermines the covenant which the government claim to want to uphold. Indeed, the Royal British Legion has called this act “a betrayal of bereaved armed forces families and threatens the military covenant.” (more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon