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New faces at Coroners

The office of Coroner is very ancient, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror. Almost a millennium on, the position is still an important one, with three new Assistant Coroners sworn in at the Coroner’s Court in Queens Road, Walthamstow by Mayor of Waltham Forest Council, Councillor Terry Wheeler on Thursday 3 July.



The swearing in of Mr Ian Wade QC, Ms Laura Johnson and Ms Elisabeth Bussey-Jones was overseen by the Senior Coroner for East London Ms Nadia Persaud.


Waltham Forest acts as the lead authority for the East London Coronial District, which covers five boroughs – Newham, Redbridge, Havering, Waltham Forest and Barking and Dagenham.


A Coroner is an independent judicial post holder – working independently from both the Council and the police. They are usually lawyers, but are sometimes doctors like the district’s other Assistant Coroner, Dr Shirley Radcliffe.


Not all deaths need to be reported to the Coroner. In most cases, a GP or hospital doctor can certify the medical cause of death and issue the Medical Certificate as to the Cause of Death (MCCD). The death can then be registered with the Registrar of Births and Deaths.


The Registrar may refer deaths to the Coroner if the cause shown is unacceptable or requires further inquiries. Coroners investigate deaths that have been reported to them if they have reason to think that the death was violent or unnatural; the cause of death is unknown or the deceased died while in prison, police custody or another type of state detention.


In East London, around 3,000 deaths are reported to the Coroner each year and there are around 380 inquests a year. While most do not garner huge amounts of attention, there is the potential for the media to prick up their ears on occasion.


At the moment a very high profile case is the inquest into the death of Dr Abbas Khan – the British humanitarian doctor who died in Syria. As he has been laid to rest in East London it is the duty of our Coroner to investigate, although it is now being heard by the Chief Coroner at the Royal Courts of Justice because of the scale of the case.




PHOTO: New Assistant Coroners Mr Ian Wade QC, Ms Laura Johnson and Ms Elisabeth Bussey-Jones at their swearing-in ceremony with Mayor of Waltham Forest, Councillor Terry Wheeler (far right) and Senior Coroner for East London Ms Nadia Persaud (second left).

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