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Sudden Death and the Coroner

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15. Who will be at the inquest ?


The coroner will decide who is to be called to give evidence at an inquest and you can ask for a list of the witnesses to be called. If you feel that someone who can give relevant information about the death is not to be called, you should ask the coroner to call that person. A coroner can refuse, but could be challenged later for failing to make sufficient inquiry into the circumstances of a death. (Section 22).

If you are not a witness, you do not have to attend an inquest, but you should consider carefully before deciding not to do so. Although it is a very upsetting and difficult experience, it may be your only opportunity to find out how your relative died. Anyone can attend an inquest and this means that relatives and friends of someone who may later be blamed for the death can be present.


Journalists are usually present and after the hearing may ask for your comments, which can be published. You should consider very carefully whether you wish to say anything. If further court hearings are likely, you and your family should avoid making any comments at all; a prosecution or compensation claim can fail if inappropriate comments are made before all court hearings are over.


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