X Media Law: 12 Reporting inquests Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in X Media Law: 12 Reporting inquests Deck (28):

what is (and is not) the purpose of an inquest?

- find out who the deceased is
- find out how they died
- NOT to apportion blame


which legislation updated inquest laws?

- Coroners and Justice Act 2009


what kinds of death go to inquest (CJA)

- cause of death unknown
- violent or unnatural
- died in custody or other state of detention


fraction of deaths that go to inquest

- 1 in 20


who presides over a coroner's hearing

- a coroner (duh)


who used to be coroners?

- solicitors
- senior doctors


how has CJA changed coroners?

- provides a hierarchy of coroners
- now need to meet same requirements as a judge


new coroner hierarchy

- Senior Coroners
- Area Coroners
- Assistant Coroners


instances where juries used in coroners court

- died in custody/detention AND death unnatural or unknown
- death caused due to omission of police duty
- caused by 'notifiable' accident, poisoning or disease
- if coroner deems 'sufficient reason' to use jury


DEF: 'notifiable' disease

- a disease that an Act has deemed 'notifiable'


stages of coroner's hearing

- first hearing: soon after death, then adjourned for investigations
- second hearing: coroner asks witnesses questions, etc.


why is questioning at coroners different to criminal case?

- aimed at finding truth (not defence/prosecution)
- relatives or implicated parties can also ask questions


common terms in inquest verdicts

- natural causes
- lawful killing
- unlawful killing
- dependence on drugs
- want of attention at birth
- suicide
- accident or misadventure
- industrial disease
- open verdict


DEF: alternative (more flexible) option for verdict

- 'narrative verdict' (explaining circumstances of death)


action taken when organisation involved in death

- s43 CJA 2009
- coroner sends report highlight organisation's failings
- 56 days to reply, explaining how they've met failings
- MoJ has started posting these response online


how do inquests relate to criminal proceedings?

- inquest opened for simple ID and cause of death
- then closed until after criminal proceedings
- not usually reopened unless criminal proceedings didn't sufficiently deal with death (e.g. case didn't finish)


what happens when a number of people die in a major incident

- public inquiry opened into incident
- Lord Chancellor can direct closing of any inquests into individual deaths (usually not reopened)


what can 'interested persons' appeal at inquest (CJA)

- investigation into death in the first place
- discontinue investigation
- rule out post-mortem examination
- summon jury
- exclude people from all/part of hearing


what is the other, totally different, role of coroner?

- deciding ownership of valuable archaeological finds


when are coroners inquests NOT open?

- coroner decides national security issue
- CJA: ministers can decide sensitive deaths can be looked at by judicial inquiry (behind closed doors)


who informs media of inquest?

- no statutory right to be informed
- BUT coroners should make efforts to ensure press (especially local papers) are informed


are inquests covered by contempt of court?

- considered active when inquest opens (even if posted indefinitely)
- if inquest precedes criminal trial, it is NOT contempt to report on it
- BUT if report then affects case (e.g. has to move location) publisher might be liable for the costs


does defamation apply in inquests?

- covered by absolute privilege
- anything can be reported so long as it's fair, accurate and contemporaneous


what sections from contempt legislation can be applied to coroners inquest?

- s4(2) and s11 orders (CCA 1981)
- s39 (CYPA 1933)


what are the rules on written evidence?

- Rule 37 in Coroners Rules 1984
- evidence can be in written form is unlikely to be controversial
- coroner must read name then read statement aloud
- discretion to not read statement (e.g. suicide notes and psychiatric reports)


who's the best press contact at coroners court?

- coroners officer (police officer attached to court)


PCC guidelines on reporting inquests

- discretion, sympathy, sensitivity
- suicides: no excessive detail about the act


Ofcom guidelines on reporting inquests

- people in distress should not be pressured to take part in programme (unless warranted)
- broadcasters should attempt to reduce stress
- surviving victims / immediate family should be informed of coverage (even if case covered elsewhere previously)