The world of inquests

Warning. This is an information heavy post. Gotta be done as I’m telling this yarn over and over again. The world of inquests (heavily mugged from – a remarkable charity). Apologies if I’ve got anything wrong

As LB died suddenly, there will be an inquest. This is to establish ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘how’.  Inquests are ‘fact finding missions’ rather than blame apportioning. There are two types of inquest; a ‘standard inquest’ (my interpretation) and an article 2 inquest. The coroner decides which type of inquest will be held. The a2 inquest is more in-depth and carries the power to be critical of the state. From the Inquest handbook;

In some circumstances article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, often referred to as the right to life, means that the state has a duty to carry out an effective investigation into a death. The inquest is normally the way which the state carries this out and inquests held in these circumstances are now referred to as article 2 inquests. They are required to be, in many ways, more thorough and far-reaching than inquests into deaths that do not engage this duty. 

Article 2 says that the state must not take someone’s life, except in very limited circumstances, and it imposes a duty on the state to protect life, so there must be a proper and thorough review of how someone died. Examples of article 2 inquests include where individuals died as a result of the use of lethal force by state agents (such as police officers) or while under the care or protection of the state (such as prisoners or other people known to authorities to be at real and immediate risk of harm).

The inquest is an open hearing and various witness will be called (or have statements read out). Sometimes there will be a jury. Families can choose to have legal representation or not. If the case is complicated, this is recommended. The inquest can take place months or sometimes years after the person has died, again depending on the complexity of the ‘case’.

Phew. There. The world of inquests in a few words. All new to us. Shocking that families have to wait so long for this process. Shocking that we have to pay for legal representation while the other interested parties can draw on their state funded legal teams. So hold on to your hats for some whacky ‘crowdsourcing’ fundraising gig. [Er, well, early days and all that, so don’t get too excited too soon].

For all the young dudes.

8 thoughts on “The world of inquests

  1. I dont know what to say Sara……..apart from dont hold your breath!
    I agree Inquest is a brilliant charity (sadly there was a death on the team and the guy dealing with our case was suddenly gone….& it all went quiet for a while but director Deborah Coles has battled to have Inquest look at deaths in Psychiatric custody “as there are so many of them” Inquest previously only looked at deaths in prison custody! Ironically if you died as a criminal you got more support than if you died in hospital. I believe the old Mental Health Act Commission (MHAC) had the remit to “safeguard the interests of detained patients and CQC have inherited this remit.MHAC also should have been at the Inquest but they didnt know so weren’t there….do CQC represent patients interests at Hearings …worth asking Kay Sheldon on Twitter……or Prof Louis Appleby (I have a feeling you’ll get a more direct answer from Kay!
    Heres a link to the report on The Listening Day I attended:

    We had a jury inquest , pro bono help from a barrister, head of Mind legal and I believe Uncle Tom Cobley was probably there too…I was in a complete daze!
    BUT! (all discovered retrospectively) we had no pre-review hearing (to agree documents) and the Coroner put her deputy in charge just 3 weeks before hearing. At hearing (altho we didnt realise until afterwards) the Trust failed to submit key documents incl the 72 hr Report(seems this is very important)! and the deputy Coroner thought as the Engagement and Observation policy was “an important document” she downloaded it as the hearing was on , the “work experience girl” copied and distributed it as we sat there in shock! \none of us had any time to read it! Every time the barrister wanted to ask a question the Deputy Coroner shouted “We are not here to apportion blame but to establish the prima facia facts!” The barrister had flu and was struggling!The Deputy Coroner was a bully and we felt like we were in a film! It was bizarre!

    Your aim: Will be to get a rule 43 letter (critical of Trust) and a narrative verdict. My sons verdict was based “on the balance of probabilities” (as he had self harmed twice before he was sectioned “for his own safety”)and “we cant say if human error or system failure was to blame”

    Sorry I dont want to rain on your parade but:
    I am more than willing to help (if it helps) and can send my email via a DM if needed. I agree its so wrong to have to wait (we waited over a year) and to pay for representation. Just let me know if any rings bells!

  2. Having given evidence (and one more to come) at OCC coroners court, I can say that the deputy coroner (who heard case) and all the coroners officers are really nice – hell of a ride still, but all the same…

  3. me too. Hope you get funds – but another alternative may be to try and get a legal rep to take on the case pro-bono. I arranged this for a case against a bank ( charges) and it has gone all the way to a high court. Not an ideal way , but a possibility.

  4. The “AntiDepAware” website has links to over 1600 inquests – all of the deaths are linked to antidepressants, and occurred in England & Wales in the past 10 years.

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