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Mr George Wilkinson (Death)

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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I have a brief statement to make. Yesterday, the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hughes) asked me about the sub judice rule on his ability to pursue the case of a constituent of his who has died in Walton prison and whose death is now the subject of a coroner's inquest.

I have looked into the matter and have decided that, although the cause of death is now sub judice, this would be a suitable case for the exercise of the discretion specifically given to me by the House. I have particularly in mind the fact that under the Criminal Law Act 1977 a coroner is not empowered to name and charge a person with murder or manslaughter. I would, therefore, be prepared to allow questions asking for a statement upon, or an inquiry into, the circumstances surrounding this case in advance of the conclusion of the coroner's investigation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, very sincerely for that ruling. I ask for time to consider the implications.