In R (Grice) v HM Senior Coroner of Brighton and Hove  EWHC 3581, the High Court has summarised the scope of the requirements under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) for an effective investigation into alleged failures of the police to protect life. The question arose where a coroner had refused to re-open the inquest into the murder of a woman by her former partner after the police had mishandled her complaints of stalking. While the criminal trial by itself had not satisfied the Article 2 investigative obligation, it had been met by the combination of the criminal trial and the four subsequent investigations of police conduct.
The case of Fullick v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis  EWHC 1941 (QB) concerned an appeal of a Deputy Master’s order that the MET Commissioner pay the claimants’ costs in the sum of £88,356.22, following the settlement of a contemplated civil claim for damages for breach of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, negligence and misfeasance in public office. Slade J held that the Deputy Master had not erred in awarding the claimants their costs relating to the inquest because the steps taken for the purposes of it were relevant to the civil claim.
R (Duggan) v Asst Coroner North London and (1) Metropolitan Police Commissioner (2) Serious Organised Crime Agency (3) IPCC (4) DS Belfield (5) DC Faulkner (Interested Parties) EWCA Civ 142
Mark Duggan’s fatal shooting by Metropolitan Police officers gave rise to widespread public disorder across the country. The inquest jury’s finding that the cause of death was “lawful killing” has, unsurprisingly, remained matter of public debate and given rise to several legal challenges.
The value of a Coroner’s inquest in opening up matters to public scrutiny is clearly demonstrated by this highly unusual application by the Chief Executive of the IPCC in R (IPCC) v IPCC  EWHC 2993 (Admin) who, following a searching inquest, brought proceedings against his own organisation to overturn its flawed report into police conduct.
Senior Coroners still smarting from being described as holding “a relatively lower judicial office” by Mr Justice Singh in the Norfolk Coroner v AAIB case last month have now been dealt a second blow by Cranston J when he made it very clear in Secretary of State for the Home Dept v Senior Coroner for Surrey  EWHC 3001 (Admin) that not only are Senior Coroners, as a category, not among those able to see sensitive material related to issues of national security, but that the Secretary of State can rely upon the assertion of a general policy not to provide Coroners with such material and so does not have to provide any evidence that disclosure to the particular Coroner will in itself result in a real risk of serious harm to national security.