The Coroners Decision - no inquest!

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Litotes, Jun 3, 2006.

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  1. I can't find a link to the article on but there was a small paragraph in today's Times that reported the decision by a Coroner not to hold an inquest into the death of a soldier who was killed when a Challenger fired at another Challenger in March 2003. The reason given was that "no trace of the body could be found".

    Just as I think I understand what is going on in the world....

    My understanding is that a Coroner must hold an inquest into any death of a British citizen which might be considered untimely. The exception is if the person was under the care of a doctor and the death might reasonably have been expected, then the death certificate can be signed by two doctors (post-Shipman).

    I can understand that a Coroner cannot hold an inquest into Mr Bloggs who vanished x years ago, because there isn't a body (but the legal position is that if there is no trace of Bloggs after 7 years, it is assumed that he is dead). But if the Coroner doesn't hold an inquest into the death of this soldier, how does the family get a death certificate? Surely, they are not going to be made to wait for 7 years?

    Does anyone know?

  2. That sounds horrible if true. I hope for the family's sake this is resolved as quickly and painlessly as possible. Has there been an inquiry already?

    The link is here The Times

  3. Geez, sad for the Soldier & his Family, what happened though? case of poor AFV recognition training or just "Fog of War"?
  4. You will find the answer here

    It says (my bold) Where a person dies outside England and Wales, the coroner still has jurisdiction and must hold an inquest - if circumstances require it - if the dead body comes to lie within his jurisdiction. If the death has been the subject of an inquiry outside England and Wales - where the death occurred - the coroner may be assisted by documents or reports that were available for those proceedings.

    So I guess no body, no inquest!
  5. So let me get this straight.... In the UK a Coroner has to make a determination of death, even if it happened in Combat thousands of miles away? And if the Coroner doesnt, the Next Of Kin must wait 7 Years for a death certificate??? Those are some Bizarre laws
  6. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    John Keegan wrote about this last week in the Telegraph. Basically, until people started being brought home to the UK for burial, there was no problem - no body, therefore no inquest. We have started copying the USA, bringing the dead home (repatriation) but without their rather more sensible system.

    "The delay in holding inquests on British servicemen killed in Iraq or Afghanistan is entirely unprecedented, brought about by the repatriation of remains to this country.

    The practice began during the Falklands and came about because one family insisted on a repatriation. Until then the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had successfully established the principle that British war dead should be buried and commemorated as near the spot where they died as possible. No inquests were held because the cause of death was evident."

    He continues, explaining the history of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

    Personally, I feel it a pity that we are repatriating the fallen. They should stay where they fell, as previous generations did.

    Perhaps the problem is that the Countries in which we are fighting are not civilised enough to respect the fallen? That must tell us something in itself.
  7. I think it should be up to the family of the deceased to decide if they want their loved repatriated, I suspect most would want this to happen.
    I think the coroner has in this case been far too literal in his reading of the law and possibly insensitve to the family. Sadly the chances of getting this decision changed will be very slim given that a coroners court is (I think) one of the highest in the land outranking even the High Court. This is exactly the type of situation where Lord Goldsmith should be intervening and supporting the Armed Forces although he's probably too busy keeping secret is legal advice to Blair over the Iraq war and prosectuting soldiers he helped to send there.
  8. NOK can choose local burial or repatriation - JSP751 refers.
  9. And, surely, this is exactly the right decision. The soldier has given his life - what more does MoD want! Had it happened to me, I would have preferred to be left where I fell. The hoop-la that so often surrounds a repatriation and military-style funeral is often media inspired and little to do with the grief of those left behind. My son served where bullets flew - had it happened to him I would have been perfectly happy with local arrangements in the hands of his 'other' family; his regiment. But then, he was a Grenadier.