FAQs

What is the purpose of an inquest?

Coroners are independent judicial officers who work within a legal framework established by Act of Parliament. A coroner’s inquest is a process for investigating the factual circumstances of a death. It is a fact-finding process to establish the answers to: who the deceased was and how, when and where they came by their death.

The proceedings and evidence are directed solely at ascertaining the answers to these questions. Expressions of opinion on any other matter – for example, determining criminal or civil liability – are not permitted. An inquest does not deal with issues of blame or responsibility or with issues of criminal or civil liability.

However, the coroner does have the power to investigate not just the main cause of death, but also “any acts or omissions which directly led to the cause of death”. See ‘Role of a Coroner’.

Where are the hearings being held?

The hearings are held in the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London EC4M 7EH.

When will the hearing start?

There have been two Pre-Inquest Review Hearings: 17 May 2017 and 15 January 2018.

A third Pre-Inquest Review Hearing will take place on 2 July 2018.

Please see Latest News for updates.

The Inquests are expected to commence on 10 September 2018 in the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, London EC4M 7EH

Do media have access?

Yes; more information about press and public access to the Inquests will be provided on this website when available.

Those attending the Inquests should note that the courtroom is subject to the same restrictions as would apply to normal court proceedings. This means that, when the court is sitting, the use of mobile telephones, other communications or recording equipment, cameras and personal stereos is strictly prohibited. Smoking, eating and drinking are also restricted to designated areas within the Central Criminal Court.

Laptops may be used in the public and press areas if they do not disturb others, but they must be silent and must not be used to make live recordings of proceedings.

Do the public have access?

Yes; more information about Press and public access to the Inquests will be provided on this website when available.

Those attending the Inquests should note that the courtroom is subject to the same restrictions as would apply to normal court proceedings.

This means that, when the court is sitting, the use of mobile telephones, other communications or recording equipment, cameras and personal stereos is strictly prohibited. Smoking, eating and drinking are also restricted to designated areas within the Central Criminal Court.

Are transcripts of proceedings and evidence made public?

Transcripts of each hearing will be published on this website.

Who is conducting the inquests?

The Chief Coroner, His Honour Judge Mark Lucraft QC.

Who can be called to give evidence?

The Chief Coroner is solely responsible for deciding who should give evidence to the Inquests. Where appropriate, the Chief Coroner may take the views of the Interested Persons in advance.

People may be called upon to give evidence if they can provide relevant information relating to the issues to be determined by the inquests.

Can witnesses be compelled to attend or provide evidence for an inquest?

The Chief Coroner can compel witnesses to give evidence if they are within the jurisdiction and are properly summonsed. If witnesses are outside the jurisdiction, the Chief Coroner can ask the authorities concerned to exercise their powers, which may vary according to the relevant jurisdiction.

What are the possible outcomes of an inquest?

After hearing the evidence at an inquest into a death, the coroner or jury (if there is one) must make certain determinations and findings (see section 10 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and rule 34 of the Coroners (Inquests) Rules 2013). In respect of the question ‘how’ the deceased came by his or her death, the possible short-form conclusions which are available to a coroner or jury include the following:

• Accident or misadventure;
• Lawful / unlawful killing;
• Natural causes; or
• Open (where the evidence did not fully or further disclose the means whereby the cause of death arose).

As an alternative, or in addition to one of the above ‘short-form’ conclusions, the coroner or jury may make a brief narrative conclusion.

Where a coroner has conducted an inquest and anything revealed by the investigation gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur, or will continue to exist, in the future, and in the coroner’s opinion, action should be taken to prevent the occurrence or continuation of such circumstances, or to eliminate or reduce the risk of death created by such circumstances, the coroner must report the matter to a person who the coroner believes may have power to take such action. A person to whom a coroner makes such a report must give the coroner a written response to it.

Who can take part and be represented in an inquest?

There is an automatic right to “interested person” status for a number of people including the family of the deceased, under Section 47 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

An ‘Interested Person’ is defined as meaning:

• A spouse, civil partner, partner, parent, child, brother, sister, grandparent, grandchild, child of a brother or sister, stepfather, stepmother, half-brother or half-sister;
• A personal representative of the deceased;
• A medical examiner exercising functions in relation to the death of the deceased;
• A beneficiary under a policy of insurance issued on the life of the deceased;
• The insurer who issued such a policy of insurance;
• A person who may by any act or omission have caused or contributed to the death of the deceased, or whose employee or agent may have done so;
• In a case where the death may have been caused by (i) an injury received in the course of an employment, or (ii) a disease prescribed under section 108 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, a representative of a trade union of which the deceased was a member at the time of death;
• A person appointed by, or representative of, an enforcing authority (i.e. including the Health and Safety Executive);
• In certain circumstances, a Chief Constable, a Provost Marshal and / or the Independent Police Complaints Commission;
• A person appointed by a Government department to attend an inquest into the death or to assist in, or provide evidence for the purposes of, an investigation into the death under this Part; and
• Any other person who the senior coroner thinks has a sufficient interest.

Will there be a jury?

The Chief Coroner has directed that the Inquest into the death of Khalid Masood will be conducted with a jury.