A coroner's inquest is a non-adversarial fact-finding inquiry and in the majority of inquests MOD does not instruct a legal team. However, MOD as an interested person, does, in a minority of cases consider it would be of assistance to have Counsel present, particularly where deaths have occurred in complex and unusual circumstances and to assist the coroner in undertaking his statutory function.
The amount spent by the Department on legal representation for military inquests in the UK and overseas each year since 2003 is as follows:
£ 2003 9,357.12 2004 61,841.16 2005 76,265.40 2006 276,589.91 2007 736,228.07
These figures include external legal advice on inquest related matters as well as costs for representation at inquests. The increase in costs in 2006 and 2007 reflect the increased volume of inquests held in Oxfordshire following the provision of additional resources to clear the backlog of inquests into operational deaths overseas.