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Appointment of the Chief Coroner

Volume 545: debated on Tuesday 22 May 2012

The Lord Chief Justice, following consultation with the Lord Chancellor, has announced today that His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC is to take up post as chief coroner in September 2012.

His Honour Judge Thornton, a senior circuit judge at the central criminal court, was originally appointed to the post in May 2010 but did not formally take up his duties while the Government were reviewing the position.

As chief coroner His Honour Judge Thornton will, for the first time, be responsible for providing national leadership to coroners in England and Wales. He will also play a key role in setting new national standards and developing a new statutory framework for coroners including rules and regulations, as well as guidance and practice directions, within which coroners will operate. This will help to bring about much greater consistency of practice between coroner areas and improved services to the bereaved.

While His Honour Judge Thornton will not formally commence his duties until September, he will in advance of that familiarise himself with issues facing the coroner system. He will also continue to sit in the administrative court to hear judicial reviews on coronial matters.

Work is ongoing on implementation of the chief coroner’s statutory functions and other powers in Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, with a view to bringing them into force in 2013.