Shipman families lawyer calls for more reform of coroners system

Reform of coroners system

01.08.2006

Ann Alexander of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who represents over 200 families of people murdered by Harold Shipman, has today supported the comments of The Commons' all-party Constitutional Affairs Select Committee who have called the draft Bill by constitutional affairs minister Harriet Harman into reform the Coroners system in England & Wales, disappointing.

The committee said that draft Bill, published last month, dropped some of the vital reforms from its 2004 proposals. The committee called the plans a "tinkering at the edges" of a system which had "critical defects", and the Government risked wasting a "golden opportunity" to improve the set-up. They also said the question of how to avoid a repeat of the Harold Shipman serial killer scandal had been left "unsolved" by ministers plans.

Ann Alexander said Shipman was a doctor who avoided the law whilst murdering his patients by exploiting all the loopholes in the current system.

This bill will indeed be a missed opportunity if any loopholes remain which could see such tragedy strike again.

In particular I call on the Government to implement the proposed procedures surrounding death and cremation certification as outlined in the Shipman inquiry without delay.

Shipman inquiry

In the Third Report of the Shipman inquiry, published on the 14th July 2003, Dame Janet Smith, the Chairman of the inquiry, considered the present system for death and cremation certification and for the investigation of deaths by coroners, together with the conduct of those who had operated those systems in the aftermath of the deaths of Shipman's victims. Dame Janet made recommendations for change based on her findings which included an improved system of death investigation and certification and in particular, reform to the cremation regulations.

Relevent contact - Ann Alexander