New guidance for coroners after Mail protest

The Oxford Times: Inquests are held at Old County Hall Inquests are held at Old County Hall

FRESH guidance is to be issued to coroners nationwide after the identity of a dead man was withheld at an Oxford inquest.

The Oxford Mail wrote to Chief Coroner Peter Thornton, QC, after Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter held an inquest at which he refused to name the deceased and tried to use the Children and Young Person’s Act to restrict media reporting.

The man died at his sister’s house and Mr Salter justified the ban by saying she was a victim of domestic violence and her children were in danger.

The Oxford Mail opposed his decision because it said there were other ways for him to restrict the specific information being published about the women and her children.

Holding an inquest without naming the deceased was ‘nonsensical’, the paper said.

It has lodged a complaint with the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, which examines disciplinary complaints against judges and coroners, and wrote to His Honour Judge Thornton asking him to review the matter.

Brenda Jones, deputy head of HHJ Thornton’s office, has written to the paper and said the Chief Coroner was going to issue guidance on “the wider ramifications of this topic and others relating the media”.

He also said he may hold a coroner/media seminar to discuss these issues.

The Oxford Mail is waiting on the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office’s decision.

While the office will not review decisions or rulings by a coroner, it can investigate matters where judicial duties have not been properly discharged.

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