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Chief Coroner statement: Deaths in Tunisia – coroner arrangements

Statement from the Chief Coroner for England & Wales, His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC regarding coroner arrangements for those who died in Tunisia.

‘This terrible incident in Tunisia involving so many tragic deaths clearly requires very careful planning and organisation. A coordinated approach has been adopted.

‘The bereaved families of those who died in Tunisia will be at the heart of this investigation process. The utmost consideration will be given to these families throughout this process.

‘Government agencies will bring back deceased British nationals from Tunisia where families have requested assistance. They will be transported to the West London coroner area via RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

‘As soon as the coffins reach West London, the West London senior coroner, Mr Chinyere Inyama, will assume jurisdiction. This means that all decisions will be taken by him as coroner. Like all coroners he is an independent judicial office holder.

‘It is the coroner’s duty to investigate any violent death overseas of a person whose body is returned to the coroner’s area. That duty commences at the point of arrival of the body.

‘The coroner will order full post-mortem examinations with CT scans in order to establish the precise medical cause of death.

‘Thereafter he will release the bodies to the families for burial or cremation as soon as is reasonably practicable. No doubt he will work towards as early a release as possible in each case.

‘The coroner will formally ‘open’ inquests in the coroner’s court and adjourn them pending further inquiries.

‘There will be one investigation and one inquest for each deceased, although, in view of the circumstances of the killings, the inquests are likely to be held together.

‘Apart from establishing the medical cause of death, in each case the coroner will answer four questions: who the deceased was and where, when and how they came by their death.

‘It is likely that a senior judge will be appointed in due course in order to conduct the inquests.”


His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, took up his post as the first Chief Coroner in September 2012.

For further details on the role of the Chief Coroner, please visit the Office of the Chief Coroner pages on the Judiciary website.

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