Judge-led inquests

Under Schedule 10 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, if requested by the Chief Coroner, the Lord Chief Justice, in consultation with the Lord Chancellor, may nominate a judge to conduct an inquest.

The Chief Coroner will make such a request for a variety of reasons, including if the case is particularly sensitive, or contains sensitive material, or is of particular national or public importance.

In some cases, a local authority will invite the Chief Coroner and the Lord Chancellor to consent to the appointment of a judge as an Assistant Coroner for an area so that the judge can deal with an inquest or inquests. As with nominations under schedule 10 (above), the Chief Coroner and Lord Chancellor will consider such applications for consent in a variety of situations, including if a case is particularly sensitive, or contains sensitive material, or is of particular national or public importance.

Some of the most high-profile cases:

Inquest into the death of the patients of Ian Paterson

His Honour Judge Richard Foster has been appointed as HM Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull in the matter of multiple inquests touching the death of patients of Mr Ian Paterson for treatment for breast cancer. A pre-inquest review hearing was held on Friday 9 June 2023. The solicitors to the inquest are Higgs & Sons.

Inquest into the death of Benjamin McQueen on 14 November 2018

Sir Ernest Ryder was appointed as Judge Coroner to conduct the inquest into the death of Marine Benjamin McQueen who died on 14 November 2018. Ben died during a military training exercise at Portland Harbour. The inquest was concluded in August 2023.

Any queries in relation to this matter should be directed to Catherine Turtle at TLT Solicitors who acts as Solicitor to the Inquest. Please contact Catherine on Catherine.Turtle@TLTsolicitors.com or on 07890 052839.

Inquest into the deaths of James Furlong, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails

The third pre-inquest review hearing (PIR) into the deaths of James Furlong, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails has been listed to take place at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. James Furlong, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails died following a terror attack at Forbury Gardens on 20 June 2020. The PIR is listed to take
place at 10am on Monday 18 September 2023 in Court 76. An agenda for this PIR has been prepared and is attached to this notice.

The PIR hearing on 18 September 2023 will be heard in open Court. In accordance with Chief Coroner’s Guidance 25 (§18) the media will have an opportunity to make submissions about public and media attendance at the pre-inquest hearing, anonymity for witnesses / other protective measures which may be necessary or applied for, and any application for Public Interest Immunity (PII). Copies of the relevant applications and responses have been made available to accredited media via the PA portal. Any members of the media wishing to make representations are requested to set out their position in writing by 4pm on 11 September 2023.

There will be a further PII hearing on Tuesday 19 September 2023. However, members of the press and the general public will be excluded from this hearing. This is necessary to enable the relevant Interested Persons to address the Coroner on material for which they seek to claim PII. The open submissions make clear that certain IPs seek PII on the basis of: national security; the prevention, detection and investigation of crime; and the public interest in the safe and secure administration of prisons. Rule 11(5) of the Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013 permits a Coroner to direct that the public be excluded from a pre-inquest review hearing if the coroner considers it would be in the interests of justice or national security to do so.

Any queries in relation to this matter should be directed to Emily Pilborough at TLT Solicitors, who acts as Solicitor to the Inquest. Please contact Emily on emily.pilborough@tlt.com or on 07929723724.

Inquest into the death of Sudesh Amman on 2 February 2020

HHJ Nicholas Hilliard was nominated to hold the inquest into the death of Sudesh Amman who was shot by police in February 2020. The inquest concluded in August 2021. All enquiries should be made to: Tim Suter on Tim.Suter@fieldfisher.com

Inquests into the deaths arising from the Fishmongers’ Hall and London Bridge terror attack of 29 November 2019

HHJ Mark Lucraft KC, the Recorder of London, was responsible for holding the inquests into the deaths of the two individuals killed in Fishmongers’ Hall, and the attacker. All enquiries should be made to:

Inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess on 8 July 2018

The Rt Hon Lord Hughes of Ombersley will chair the Public Inquiry into the death of Dawn Sturgess who died on the 8 July 2018 following exposure to the nerve agent Novichok. All enquiries should be made to: info@dawnsturgess.independent-inquiry.uk

Inquests into the deaths arising from the Manchester Arena terror attack of 22 May 2017

Sir John Sanders was nominated to hold inquests into the deaths of the 22 individuals killed at the Manchester Arena, and the attacker. On 22 October 2019 it was determined that the inquests would become a Public Inquiry with Sir John Saunders as the Chairman. A dedicated website (external link) has been set up for the inquiry, which contains information about the inquiry, previous hearings and includes links to the agendas. All enquiries should be made to Tim Suter, Solicitor to the Inquiry at timsuter@fieldfisher.com.

Inquest into the death of Yassar Yaqub on 2 January 2017

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl KC, was nominated to hold the inquest into the death of Yassar Yaqub in January 2017. All enquiries should be directed to Tom Little KC tlitte@9goughchambers.co.uk

Inquest into the death of Jamal Uddin on 18 February 2016

The Chief Coroner of England and Wales, HHJ Thomas Teague KC is holding the inquest into the death of Jalal Uddin, a 71-year-old man originally from Bangladesh. All enquiries in connection with the inquest should be made to coroners.office@rochdale.gov.uk.

Inquest into the death of Jermaine Baker on 11 December 2015

In March 2019, His Honour Clement Goldstone KC was nominated to hold an inquest into the death of Jermaine Baker who was shot by armed police close to Wood Green Crown Court. On February 13 2020, the Home Secretary announced that a Public Inquiry would be set up under the Chairmanship of His Honour Clement Goldstone KC, in order to consider relevant sensitive information. Read the report (external pdf).  All enquiries should be made to Abi Scholefield, Solicitor to the Inquiry on Abigail.scholefield@fieldfisher.com or 0161 200 1782.

Inquests into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor

Stephen Port was convicted of the murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro KC, sitting as an Assistant Coroner for East London, held the inquests into these four deaths which took place between June 2014 and September 2015. All enquiries should be made to Oliver Carlyon at oliver.carlyon@fieldfisher.com

Inquests into the deaths arising from the sinking of the French vessel Bugaled Breizh in January 2004

Judge Nigel Lickley KC has been nominated to the hold inquests into the deaths of Yves Marie Gloaguen and Pascal le Floch who died following the sinking of the French vessel Bugaled Breizh on 15 January 2004 off the coast of Cornwall in England. Judge Lickley KC provided his summing up and findings. All enquiries should be made to:

Inquest into the death of Sabina Rizvi on 20 March 2003

HHJ Angela Rafferty KC has been appointed to hold the inquest into the death of Sabina Rizvi on 20 March 2003. Cathy McGahey KC has been appointed as Counsel to the Inquest, and Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP has been appointed as Solicitors to the Inquest, led by Sarah Jones (sarahjones@eversheds-sutherland.com). All enquiries should be made to: mail@sabinarizvi-inquest.com.