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Iraq and Afghanistan: Military Inquests

Volume 692: debated on Wednesday 13 June 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the composition of the dedicated Ministry of Defence team that supports coroners preparing for inquests; and what is its method of proceeding. [HL4189]

In addition to existing arrangements for all three services, principally through the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, based at RAF Innsworth, a dedicated team for Army-related inquests was established in February to provide support to coroners to help clear the backlog of inquests and to ensure that a further backlog does not occur. The inquest cell is based at Upavon, Wiltshire, and consists of:

1 x band B1;

1 x serving colonel;

1 x retired colonel;

1 x band C 1; and

1 x E grade support (yet to be recruited).

With a significant number of inquests into the deaths of military personnel being held at Oxfordshire Coroner's Court, the inquest cell has worked closely with the assistant deputy coroner, Mr Walker, and his team to ensure that he and bereaved families have all the necessary information for inquests to proceed.

The inquest cell has also worked with “home coroners” across England and Wales who have jurisdiction for inquests concerning military personnel. Whenever their support has been requested, team members have attended pre-inquest meetings and/or the inquest.

The team leader, in co-operation with other stakeholders, is also tasked to review the department’s processes for supporting coroners. A series of review meetings have been held, and Ministers are provided with regular updates.