Chapter 8: The Coroner's inquiry: from the immediate aftermath to the preliminary hearings

Conclusion: what is added to public understanding

  • In public statements the Coroner explained that his decision to hold preliminary hearings on a limited basis (mini-inquests) was in response to representations from families' lawyers. The disclosed documents show that the Coroner took Counsel's advice before deciding to hold mini-inquests, a decision initially rejected by the WMP investigation team.
  • The procedures adopted for the presentation of evidence to the jury, particularly WMP investigating officers reading witnesses' summarised statements, prevented examination of the evidence. This undermined its reliability and this became a serious issue of concern regarding 'sufficiency' of inquiry.
  • This process, while agreed by the bereaved families' legal representatives, was accepted on the assumption that questions and inconsistencies within summaries would be fully examined at the generic stage of the inquests. This occurred only in a limited number of cases.
  • Following the mini-inquests, the families' legal representatives conveyed their clients' satisfaction with the process to the Coroner. Yet families' correspondence demonstrates serious concerns regarding what they considered to be a flawed process which left many questions unanswered.