Military help for Inquests

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by OldRedCap, Aug 28, 2007.

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  1. Started a new topic as this will doubtless be invaded by the Monty Python script writers.
    Delays in inquests into military deaths are inordinately long. Exact reasons for blockages not known but it may be that there are insufficient coroners officers who collate evidence for coroner. Maybe problems getting stuff from outside UK.
    So, why not second SIB as coroners officers.
  2. I don't know exactly what coroner's officers do, but surely SIB would argue they are overstretched as it is?
  3. mysteron

    mysteron LE Book Reviewer

    I think you answered your own question mate. You will of course remember that a number of inquests have been inconclusive due to lost evidence by some of your old brethren.

    A partial dig, but unfortunately mostly true (from unpleasant experience) and doesn't do much good for credibility.
  4. NM- Let them advance that theory. My latest Corps journal seems to indicate that they still have time for fun and games that used to be used for work where that was urgent and needed.
    Mysteron - Sorry for your obvious confrontation. Coroners officers do not have to replace Morse. Checking what is produced by initial investigators and getting what is missing - generally admin rather than fron line enquiries. HMIC thought them up to this level of inquiry.
  5. ORC
    The Mets finest couldn't convict Blur with all their power in UK.
    I honestly doubt that collecting genuine evidence on a Battlefield is a practical proposition and do wonder if your former colleges are too happy about putting away Tom who is as per normal in it up to his neck.
  6. The problem as I see it is that because of the way the law is framed the inquest has to be held in the county that the body lands on entry to the country. As this is mainly Brize Norton the County Coroners Service is unable to cope. All that would be needed to rectify this disgraceeful stae of affairs , it seems, is to move the inquest to the place of residence or similar. Perhaps of course if they got the inquest on Diana out of the way they'd ahve a few more coroners to work on forces cases (Sorry about that, personal rant)
  7. From the pages of Wiki

    From UK Resilience

    HM Coroner
    The role of the coroner is defined by statute.
    Coroners have responsibilities in relation to bodies
    lying within their district who have met a violent or
    unnatural death, or a sudden death of unknown
    cause.1 They have to determine who has died, how,
    and when and where the death came about. This
    function is regardless of whether or not the cause
    of death arose within their district. They normally
    undertake this duty at a formal inquest (though if the
    incident results in a public inquiry chaired by a judge,
    a full inquest may not be held).
    Coroners should have an emergency plan
    relating to multiple fatalities, and coroners’ officers
    should be familiar with its content. They should also
    be familiar with the police Major Incident Plan for
    their own area and with the local authority
    emergency plan.
    The powers and duties of coroners do not vary
    with the number of people who are killed or the
    circumstances in which the deaths occur. A body
    at the scene of an incident should not be moved
    without the authority of the coroner and only the
    coroner may authorise a post-mortem and the release
    of a body to relatives. In general the police act as the
    coroner’s officers when dealing with fatalities arising
    from an incident.
  8. ORC

    Notwithstanding recent comments about the Oxford coroner being a 'centre of excellence' for inquests into military deaths due to its recent experience, I firmly believe that this is entirely relative, as numerous pronouncements have reflected a woeful lack of appreciation of battlefield realities. The move to Wiltshire has not improved matters and, whilst I was keen on spreading the load around the country to reduce the backlog and the need for families to travel (as the Government now proposes craftmansx), there will be even less specialist knowledge. I really don't know whether there are sufficient SIB resources, however I would very much welcome some form of formal military representation/advice to the coroner, and I think the SIB could well fufil this role. From my experience of investigating deaths alongside SIB colleagues, I would have no problem with their diligence. Whatever evidence can be gathered in the circumstances already is being gathered for police purposes anyway.
  9. Couple of developments.

    Since April 2007, RAF Lyneham has been the primary location for repatriations and is in a different Coroner's area (Wiltshire). This will continue for two years while upgrading work is in progress at Brize Norton (Oxfordshire). The Oxfordshire Coroner still has outstanding cases so in the short term, it should help that new cases are being handled elsewhere.

    Secondly, at long last there seems to be some recognition that the Coroner for the area where the repatriation takes place can transfer the inquest to other English jurisdictions by arrangement. (Transfers to Scotland are another issue). Transfer to the deceased's home area is not a universal solution, however, and there is also the argument that military-related inquests may benefit from experience and familiarity with military procedures, etc.

    The British Armed Forces Federation (BAFF) shares the concern over inquest delays, and also calls for the provision of reasonable legal aid for bereaved service families' representation at the inquest. Further BAFF action is likely.

  10. Meanwhile, the US continue to frustrate Coroners' efforts to get to the bottom of cases:

    US troops 'will not attend inquests'.

    So much for Swiss Des's promises about a 'full investigation' into the recent blue-on-blue incident.
  11. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    "He said the investigation would focus on the breakdown in communications between ground and air forces."

    Not personally ever had to call for close air support - but I would have thought that without comms to the guys on the ground, the chances of a dropping a 500kg bomb precisely would have been near impossible...
  12. Duties of coroner's officer ( cover a wide range. Could be filled from mix of Provost and SIB. Just as much a job for PC Dixon as Jack Regan. Would make a break from golfing....
  13. They have an SIB SSgt working out of Oxford/Upavon trying to help speed up the process. Cannot comment on whether it is working though, we will have to wait and see.
  14. The repatriation of servicemen who had die overseas was introduced in 1967, for normal peacetime policy.

    The NOK were given the choice of repatriating the body, if practicable or of visiting the overseas grave.

    It was only after the "Helen Smith"* case at the court of appeal, that the Home Office advises that Coroners will feel obliged to hold an inquest to investigate the violent or unnatural death abroad of any person whose body is repatriated within Their Jurisdiction.

    All of the 64 bodies repatriation to the UK from the Falklands & all of the bodies from the 1st Gulf War all had Inquests.

    The Southampton coroner took jurisdiction for the Falkland's bodies because the bodies came home by Ship (Sir Bedivere), the coroners decision was not challenged and none of the families were legally represented at the inquest which was completed without incident, remember the public attitude to the conflict was very supportive.

    This was the same with the 1st Gulf War the public were very supportive of the War.

    An Officer was sent back to the UK with the first 17 bodies and assist the Oxfordshire coroner, the other bodies still in the Gulf had just been recovered from the Iraqis, a SIB specialist photographer was required to make a special video & photographic record for the coroner.

    But this time the coroner was challenged by the families, as to the blue on blue, on(C,Coy 3 RRF) by the yanks.

    Both the Falklands & 1st Gulf War and after have been subject of Ministerial correspondence between the MOD & the Home Office trying to bring in legislation necessary to prevent unnecessary inquests on the repatriated bodies of casualties from overseas, such inquests are exposing service witnesses to cross-examination and are giving publicity to distressing medical and other details about casualties on active service, the repatriation of the bodies now, and the public attitudes to this conflict is putting pressure on the Government and the MOD, it is possible that a legislative solution could be enacted in the future just like the yanks do "eg" soldiers killed in conflict have a military inquest not open to the public.

    Helen Smith:
  15. Coroners Courts are a waste of time.

    Nowadays, they don't even give verdicts, they give a narrative ! :x