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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote iansadler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2011 at 11:55am
Why do these posts have to cost so much to establish?
How independant would the appointee be?
I have had some dealings with the Pensions Ombudsman and I have noticed failings in that department; how do we know the Chief Coroner would be unbiassed, and not "One of the Boys"?
How do we know that the bereaved military parents would not just get the run around from another "Pillar of Society"?
All very well for the RBL to say but I am yet to witness the benefits of the RBL. In my experience the RBL offers a bag of broken hopes. The RBL collects a lot of money every year but they act like another branch of the Civil Service. When I said that to the Officer responsible for Devon he took that as a compliment! It wasn't meant that way.
I know something needs to be done. I informed our Coroner of the MoD deliberately misleading him and the reply was, "I no longer have any authority"!    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Nov 2011 at 11:01am
Military inquests: Chief Coroner created in Coalition climb-down
A Chief Coroner will be appointed to improve inquiries into military deaths after a Government climb-down.
By James Kirkup, Deputy Political Editor6:25PM GMT 22 Nov 2011 3 Comments
Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, announced the change Tuesday night, hours before the Government faced a defeat on the issue in the House of Lords.
He said he had "listened to and reflected on" objections to the Government's plans.
The Coalition had wanted to scrap the chief coroner post, but had faced strong opposition from campaign groups including the Royal British Legion.
Mr Clarke’s 11th-hour move comes after David Cameron intervened to defuse an increasingly acrimonious row with military campaigners.
The post of chief coroner was created by Labour in 2009 but has never been filled.


Advocates say that a single chief is needed to improve the speed and sensitivity of Coroners’ inquires into the deaths of military personnel.
Ministers had said the post was unnecessary and had had proposed to scrap it and transfer its legal duties to judges and public bodies.
The RBL had lobbied hard for the post to be spared, telling ministers that only by filling the post will they complete the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces.
Mr Clarke said his compromise would be the last the Coalition would offer on the issue, describing it as “one last try” to satisfy the campaigners.
Under the new plan, a chief coroner will now be appointed. However, in a change from the 2009 legislation, the chief will not be able to act as a court of appeal against other coroners’ decisions.
Instead the chief will be “focused on working to deliver the reform to Coroners' service that we all want to see,” Mr Clarke said. The new post will have “the full range of powers to drive up standards, including coroner training, as well as setting minimum standards of service.”
Mr Clarke said the change will mean better treatment for bereaved families.
He said: “The Government is committed to urgent and meaningful reform of the coroner system, to ensure inquests are timely, efficient and effective, and bereaved families are provided with the information and support they need throughout this emotionally difficult process.
“Over recent months I have listened to and reflected on the concerns raised across Parliament, by families and by other groups, including the Royal British Legion, that a single figure needs to be responsible for the coroner system. I am prepared to have one last try to meet those arguments and so have taken the decision to implement the office of the Chief Coroner.”
The RBL will on Wednesday meet ministers to discuss the detail of Mr Clarke's changes.
An RBL spokesman said: "The Government has blinked. We now need to see the detail to decide whether the proposed changes will result in a better inquest system which brings real benefit for bereaved Armed Forces families. They deserve nothing less."
    
    

Edited by Elaine - 23 Nov 2011 at 11:03am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2012 at 8:19am
Defence Inquests Unit: helping to find the answers

A Defence Policy and Business news article
23 Feb 12
The Defence Inquests Unit's support to coroners is helping bereaved families find out the facts. Report by Ian Carr.

When the worst has happened, the death of a loved one, you need all the support you can get to help you cope, not just with the emotions but with the practicalities of death.

Sadly, until just a couple of years ago, while many of the welfare and compassionate mechanisms were in place to support Service families who had lost a relative on operations, or on training, the quality of the inquest process was undoubtedly in need of improvement:

"Back in 2007/08, I think it would be fair to say that the MOD was struggling with how we handled inquests because there was no focus," said Mike Venables, head of the award-winning Defence Inquests Unit.

"The families were dissatisfied by the service they were getting and by the way that inquests were working. Many didn't understand why we were having them or what they were for."

As a response, the Army, for the majority of the fatalities were soldiers, set up Project Ajax to improve the situation. In 2008 it became tri-Service, and so the Defence Inquests Unit (DIU) was formed:

"Our role," said Mike, "is to support bereaved families by making sure that the coroner is in the best place to do what is necessary. That means making sure they have everything they need and that the process is satisfactory and done in a timely fashion.

"An inquest, by its very nature, is never going to be a good experience, but it is the last formal stage, it's done publicly, and it's an opportunity for the families to ask any questions they want to ask."

The purpose of an inquest is for an independent coroner to establish the facts of what happened - who has died, when, where, and how did it happen. It is not about apportioning blame.

But one of the biggest problems that coroners faced was being able to establish exactly what had happened in situations which were completely alien to them. Many didn't understand what they were dealing with, nor what a theatre of war was like:

"Some of the more inexperienced were dealing with operational incidents as if they had occurred on the local high street," said Colonel Clive Newell, who leads the DIU's team of military case officers.

"Our role is to support bereaved families by making sure that the coroner is in the best place to do what is necessary. That means making sure they have everything they need and that the process is satisfactory and done in a timely fashion."
Mike Venables


"Military families have a very good idea of what their sons, daughters, wives etc are doing; so to sit through an inquest with bizarre questions being asked of a witness by a coroner who wasn't situationally-aware left a bad taste in their mouths."

So from the start it was clear that the DIU had to engage with coroners and offer to make their jobs easier by furnishing them with all the reports and information they needed for the case and help them gain as complete an understanding of the context of the incident as they could.

To make things easier still the case officers now help to identify and locate military witnesses.

At first this was not so straightforward:

"Credibility was our biggest challenge. Coroners felt initially 'DIU - here we go, they're out to pull the wool over our eyes'," said Colonel Newell.

"That was never the intention. They have realised over the years that we are completely transparent and we are as helpful as we can be, because we want our families to have the very best level of service.

"If a soldier has been killed because of negligence, or lack of equipment, we would not be doing our job if we tried to sweep things under the carpet."

Strong relationships based on trust have been built up since those early days, and coroners who want any additional information, or an explanation of something they don't quite understand, don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call the case officers for help.

That additional information can involve arranging for a coroner to be shown how an SA80 rifle is cleaned, a flight in a particular type of helicopter, or a translation of military jargon.

To help coroners gain more of an understanding of the context of a theatre of operations, two years ago the DIU organised a familiarisation event for them at Warminster:

"We showed them the vehicles and kit used on ops. We set up demos for them, mine clearance drills, let them experience the weight of the packs that troops carry, so if something like that should come up in a future case they could say 'right I've seen this before, I know something about this'," said Colonel Newell.

The coroners found the experience so useful that it has now become an annual event.

DIU case officers also help coroners find their way through the weighty reports that once used to simply land on their desks with a thump.

Case officers read through the Royal Military Police reports, Special Investigation Branch reports and witness statements before handing them on to the coroner:
"We read through everything first and redact them for security - which is something that they do worry about so we explain that. Then there can be thirty or more witness statements for them to look through," said Colonel Newell.

"We point them to what we see as the salient information and suggest who we see as the key witnesses who should be called to the inquest. We provide them with a Rolls-Royce service.

"And they don't always understand military hierarchy," said Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Kemp of the Parachute Regiment.

"We can explain the roles of the company, platoon and section commanders and say, 'with respect, this is the chap you need to speak to, he will be the one who had understanding of the threat, he will know about the planning of the operation, the availability of kit, how long the guys were on the ground - he is the bloke who will know'."

Being independent, the coroners can of course choose to disregard all this advice. But that rarely happens. David Ridley, coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said:

"The DIU's focus on achieving the smooth running of the inquest process is exemplary. I know that the unit's involvement has been very well received by families and Service personnel witnesses alike, who often have to relive traumatic events in the alien environment of a court."

Providing support to the witnesses is a critical part of the unit's work:

"It can be a hugely difficult experience for some witnesses," said Mike Venables. "They have to relive the death of a friend, and quite possibly they were injured in the same incident. They may have spent six months in hospital because they were hit by shrapnel from the same explosion that killed their mate."

"We can explain the roles of the company, platoon and section commanders and say, 'with respect, this is the chap you need to speak to, he will be the one who had understanding of the threat, he will know about the planning of the operation, the availability of kit, how long the guys were on the ground - he is the bloke who will know'."
Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Kemp


The DIU has produced a DVD explaining the role and purpose of inquests, and what will be expected of the witnesses. Case officers brief them:

"But what we don't do is coach them. All we say is, 'you've got nothing to fear from this, all you have to do is tell the truth as you see it'. It can be a cleansing experience," said Mike.

Even though inquests are supposed to be anything but adversarial, a coroner's court can be daunting. To help establish a proper military context, and help witnesses feel more at ease, they are advised to attend wearing their Service dress rather than civilian clothing as they used to.

Case officers also appear in uniform. Before the unit came into being, the MOD tended to be legally represented at inquests:

"But we took the view that some families see that as intimidating," said Mike. "It looked as though the big bad Ministry had turned up, so now, even if the families choose to have a barrister, we tend not to, we just send a case officer."

This not only helped to ease the tension at inquests, but has reduced legal representation costs by more than Ł1.3m.

But the decision was not about saving costs insists Mike. If the case has complicated legal issues, or if there are particular security implications, the DIU will have legal representation:

"If it is a multiple incident, and if there are several families there who are legally represented, we might have a rep - if only as a bit of a buffer for the witnesses. It can be pretty intimidating for 'Private Snooks' if he's facing two or three barristers."

Which all underlines the unit's open approach to inquests. Ask any member of the team and they will tell you categorically they are not there to get the MOD off the hook:

"I have no difficulty whatsoever," said Mike, "if an incident has happened and the Department has done something wrong, it is entirely right that the coroner should criticise us. And we will make sure they have the information necessary to do so on an informed and intelligent basis."

"What we can do is let the coroner know of any improvements that have been made since the time of the death. We can refer him to any similar cases and say 'these were the lessons learned, this is what happens now, this is the new kit' - it can save his time and it can reflect to families that the death of their relative was not totally in vain."
Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Kemp


Once a coroner has concluded an inquest and reached a verdict, if he feels there is something that needs raising which might help prevent future deaths, he will write a report, known as a Rule 43, to the Secretary of State. Again the DIU can help:

"Rule 43 reports are really important," said Lieutenant Colonel Kemp. "What we can do is let the coroner know of any improvements that have been made since the time of the death. We can refer him to any similar cases and say 'these were the lessons learned, this is what happens now, this is the new kit' - it can save his time and it can reflect to families that the death of their relative was not totally in vain."

Last year the DIU won the Operational Excellence Award at the annual Civil Service Awards:

"It was a huge tribute to the guys," said Mike. "The job they do really makes a difference. What they do matters and it was great to see them get recognition for that."

Talking to the team, you are left in no doubt that they find their work rewarding, even if, at times, it is distressing:

"I like to think we've done a good job, but I can't call it satisfying - because it's such a sad job," said Colonel Newell.

Lieutenant Colonel Kemp nods his agreement:

"You get the feeling that you have done your duty. Everyone has got as much out of it as they can. We've cut down the time that inquests were taking; we have helped the coroners to provide our families with a better service. That is satisfying."

DIU facts

reducing the level of legal representation has saved more than Ł1.3m
522 inquests have been completed since 2001. Last year the DIU worked on 95 inquests, 79 of which were operational
overall, the DIU has responded to 32 coroners' reports; four in 2011 and eight in 2010. All were responded to within 56 days
the DIU team comprises seven civilians and five military staff
in 2011 the average time taken for an operational inquest was 12 months
This article is taken from the March 2012 edition of Defence Focus - the magazine for everyone in Defence.
    
    
    

Edited by Elaine - 25 Feb 2012 at 8:23am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote iansadler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2012 at 11:29am
Back in 2007/08, I think it would be fair to say that the MOD was struggling with how we handled inquests because there was no focus," said Mike Venables, head of the award-winning Defence Inquests Unit.

The families were dissatisfied by the service they were getting and by the way that inquests were working. Many didn't understand why we were having them or what they were for."

Why did the MoD go out of their way to block the Human Rights Act for servicemen “In the Field”?!

"Our role," said Mike, "is to support bereaved families by making sure that the coroner is in the best place to do what is necessary. That means making sure they have everything they need and that the process is satisfactory and done in a timely fashion.

That’s a joke!

The purpose of an inquest is for an independent coroner to establish the facts of what happened - who has died, when, where, and how did it happen. It is not about apportioning blame.

Yes but an Article 2 Inquest would go in to more depth!

We don’t want blame but we do want truthful answers and we also want to see that where mistakes were made other families don’t get to suffer in the same manner.

[Reference Cpl WOJCAK’S recent funeral and inquest. He was killed in a Pinzgauer Vector the day before he was to get a Mastiff, and that after all the other soldiers (young men), I know of, killed in unsuitable vehicles for a mined environment!


Military families have a very good idea of what their sons, daughters, wives etc are doing; so to sit through an inquest with bizarre questions being asked of a witness by a coroner who wasn't situationally-aware left a bad taste in their mouths."

What about the overt blatant lies the MoD witnesses spouted!

Credibility was our biggest challenge. Coroners felt initially 'DIU - here we go, they're out to pull the wool over our eyes'," said Colonel Newell.

"That was never the intention. They have realised over the years that we are completely transparent and we are as helpful as we can be, because we want our families to have the very best level of service.

"If a soldier has been killed because of negligence, or lack of equipment, we would not be doing our job if we tried to sweep things under the carpet."

Sweeping it under the carpet is exactly what I would say they do!

What we can do is let the coroner know of any improvements that have been made since the time of the death. We can refer him to any similar cases and say 'these were the lessons learned, this is what happens now, this is the new kit' - it can save his time and it can reflect to families that the death of their relative was not totally in vain."
Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Kemp.

They always say changes have been made; like the OWMIK Land Rover has been upgraded to an EWMIK Land Rover! What they don’t say is the EWMIK Land Rover is no better when faced by the same explosion!

"Rule 43 reports are really important," said Lieutenant Colonel Kemp. "What we can do is let the coroner know of any improvements that have been made since the time of the death. We can refer him to any similar cases and say 'these were the lessons learned, this is what happens now, this is the new kit' - it can save his time and it can reflect to families that the death of their relative was not totally in vain."

The answers to my son’s inquest Rule 43 report were nothing short of propaganda; Bill Rammel signed it off and it overplayed the helicopter numbers and the value of the vehicles replacing the OWMIK Land Rovers!

Last year the DIU won the Operational Excellence Award at the annual Civil Service Awards:

Yes unbelievable as it may seem the DIU was considered the best of the bunch (more Civil Servants). I believe the SPVA won this or another award for excellence and they did not understand the 2005 Act for Death Benefits; they were, and still do, pay out to girlfriends! And these girls end up with a pension for life (Tax Free) even if they go on to marry!

This article is taken from the March 2012 edition of Defence Focus - the magazine for everyone in Defence.

This last bit says it is an article for everyone in defence! Patting themselves on the back!

Well I am not happy with how the MoD acted at my son’s inquest!

I have sent a report to the Devon and Cornwall Police accusing the MoD representatives of deliberately misleading the Coroner. Deliberately misleading is defined in my dictionary as lying so I am accusing the MoD of perjury; that does not correlate with this glowing self praise, does it?

IAN SADLER [ SON JACK KILLED AGED 21 IN A LAND ROVER WHEN AFGHANISTAN HAD 2 TO 10 MILLION RUSSIAN MINES LET ALONE THE IEDs. IN 2007 THERE WERE FAR TOO FEW HELICOPTERS AS WELL]
All the things said in this report are what should happen; but they do not. The carpet should be lifted and the rubbish cleared out. Senior politicians, and military, that are now Lords should have their grand titles abolished along with their privileges!

IAN SADLER
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Mar 2012 at 10:44am
Inquests MUST be open says British Legion chief who fears secret justice plans would 'compound grief of bereaved'
By JAMES CHAPMAN
PUBLISHED: 00:44, 9 March 2012 | UPDATED: 09:53, 9 March

The head of the Royal British Legion said plans for secret court and inquest hearings would ‘compound the grief’ of servicemen’s bereaved families.
Chris Simpkins said he was appalled at the prospect of investigations into military deaths being conducted behind closed doors if they included intelligence information.
He said Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke must amend draft legislation to exclude inquests from the controversial system of ‘secret justice’.


Appalled: Chris Simpkins said Ken Clarke must act to exclude inquests from the controversial system of 'secret justice'. Neal Turkington, right, was killed by an Afghan National Army soldier in July 2010.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown is also understood to have concluded the reforms are dangerous and unjustifiable. ‘Paddy is lobbying the Government hard behind the scenes,’ said one senior Liberal Democrat source.
The Mail has revealed growing cross-party unease at the Ministry of Justice’s proposals for an extension of so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are held in secret.

Plans to extend 'secret justice' are too broad and should be amended, admits Ken Clarke
Defendants or claimants are not allowed to be present, cannot know or challenge the case against them and must be represented by one of an elite group of security-cleared lawyers, rather than their own.
But 57 of the 69 special advocates working in the existing system say the proposals to extend secret hearings are unjustifiable, arguing they ‘represent a departure from the foundational principle of natural justice’.

As it stands, the Government’s green paper would allow ministers to order a secret hearing across any civil proceeding or inquest that might ‘damage the public interest’.
Ministers now look likely to try to appease critics by narrowing that to cases of national security.
But Mr Simpkins, director general of the Royal British Legion, said: ‘The Legion believes that military inquests ought to be held in the open because transparency is the best guarantee that bereaved Armed Forces families will actually find out exactly how their loved one died.
‘Withholding information from them through a secret inquest will only compound their grief and generate distrust and suspicion.’
Ivor Turkington, father of Gurkhas Lieutenant Neal Turkington, who was killed by an Afghan National Army soldier in July 2010, added: ‘As the father of a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, I’m totally opposed to secret inquests.
‘My family and I were at his inquest. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of our lives, but it would have been even worse if it had been designated a secret inquest and information withheld from us because of that.

Secret inquests would be a massive step backwards and at odds with the aims of the Armed Forces Covenant. That’s why I would urge ministers to think again – please drop the proposal for secret courts.’
Deborah Coles, co-director of Inquest, a charity providing support for bereaved families at coroners’ courts, said: ‘Ken Clarke is wrong. Mechanisms already exist for the most sensitive information to be dealt with safely and successfully at inquests without the need to exclude bereaved families. MI6 and MI5 officers have given evidence at a number of inquests involving highly sensitive national security issues.
‘It is crucial that bereaved families are able to participate in an open and transparent process that allows them to fully understand how their relative died, and so that lessons can be learned to try to prevent future deaths.’ Last night Labour finally broke its silence on the issue. Its justice spokesman Sadiq Khan warned that unless ministers were able to make a better case for their plans, Labour would not be able to back them.
‘We should all agree that our tradition of open and fair justice is critical if we are to maintain confidence in our legal system,’ Mr Khan said.
‘For centuries, justice being done but also being seen to be done have been the pillars on which our legal system has been built. Only in the most serious of circumstances should we deviate from these principles.’
But a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘There are a tiny number of cases in which sensitive intelligence material cannot be disclosed in court. So the Government has consulted on how we could provide the safeguards to ensure intelligence evidence could be heard by a coroner to help them get to the truth.
‘Our proposal is that only those parts of the evidence which could damage national security would be affected, with the rest of the evidence and verdict given completely openly.
‘Our consultation explicitly rules out excluding juries from inquests, and suggests a number of ways of keeping bereaved families at their centre.’


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2112409/Inquests-MUST-open-says-British-Legion-chief-fears-secret-justice-plans-compound-grief-bereaved.html#ixzz1ocCrhRjz
    

Edited by Elaine - 09 Mar 2012 at 10:45am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2012 at 8:48am


Coroners
Justice




Jo Johnson (Orpington, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice

(1) what the average length of time taken for the completion of coroner inquests was in (a) 2009, (b) 2010 and (c) 2011;

(2) what steps he is taking to reduce the length of time taken for the completion of coroner inquests;

(3) what effect he expects the appointment of a chief coroner will have on the time taken to complete coroner inquests.


Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 11 September 2012, c184W)

Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald, Conservative)

The estimated average time taken by coroners to complete inquests in 2009. 2010 and 2011 was 27 weeks. The Ministry of Justice collects statistical information on the length of inquests in aggregate form by asking coroners to state the number of inquests completed within specified time bands. The latest published National Statistics on the work of coroners relates to 2011 and is available on the Ministry of Justice website at:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/coroners-and-burials/deaths

The Ministry of Justice is preparing to implement a number of measures in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 that will help to reduce the length of time taken to complete coroner investigations. In particular, coroners will be required to notify the Chief Coroner of any investigation that lasts more than 12 months. The Chief Coroner will be required to keep a register of such notifications and to report annually to the Lord Chancellor on the number and length of these investigations, the reasons for delays and the measures taken to prevent delays from becoming unnecessarily lengthy. This will bring about a much greater focus on the length of, and reasons for, delays within the system and put pressure on coroners to keep delays to a minimum.

The Ministry intends to bring these measures into force as soon as practicable.

    

Edited by Elaine - 12 Sep 2012 at 8:48am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mfsg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2014 at 12:25pm

Guide to Coroner Services
Justice



Simon Hughes (Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats; Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Liberal Democrat)

The Government are today publishing the new “Guide to Coroner Services” and accompanying “Coroner investigations - a short guide”.

The guide explains to bereaved people, and others who come into contact with coroner services across England and Wales, what they can expect from a coroner’s investigation. It sets out the standards of service that they should receive and what they can do if they are not satisfied.

The guide is the final element in the Government’s package of coroner reforms under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 which we implemented in July last year. It is the product of our spring 2013 consultation which sought views on implementing those reforms. The guide replaces and updates the guide to coroners and inquests and charter for coroner services’ which applied to the coroner system under the previous coroner legislation, the Coroners Act 1988 and the Coroners Rules 1984.

The accompanying “Coroner investigations - a short guide” is a quick reference leaflet version of the guide which we have produced following suggestions made in the consultation.

Unlike the previous publication which it replaces, the new guide is statutory guidance. It is issued under section 42 of the 2009 Act, which allows the Lord Chancellor to issue guidance on how the coroner system is expected to operate in relation to bereaved people, including the way in which they can participate in coroner investigations.

I believe that the guide—together with the short guide—will help to make standards of service more transparent for coroners and bereaved people. It will also assist the Chief Coroner in discharging his responsibility under the 2009 Act for overseeing the coroner service.

We are distributing hard copies of the guide and short guide to all coroners’ offices across England and Wales, as well as publishing it on gov.uk. There is also a Welsh translation.

Copies of the guide and short guide are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office.



Edited by mfsg - 25 Feb 2014 at 12:26pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Elaine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2017 at 9:22am
http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/dying-bereavement/bereavement-due-traumatic-death/coroners-inquest
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