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Clause 65

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 13th May 2008.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 6:30 pm, 13th May 2008

I agree with the points that have just been made by my right hon. and learned Friend. In fairness to the Government, when we had the briefing at the Home Office, it became clear to me that in their intention of having specially appointed coroners, the Government were not attempting, as I said earlier, to put in functionaries who would do their bidding, but that primarily they would be looking to existing coroners and to having a small specialist panel who had been specially vetted for the purpose. In addition, it is not unheard of—it has just happened with the inquest on the Princess of Wales—to appoint a High Court judge or a Lord Justice of Appeal as a coroner. All those things provide flexibility in the system, which I would not wish to see removed.

The fact remains, however, and I am pleased the Minister seems to have taken this point on board, that the appointment ought to be by the Lord Chief Justice. Indeed, the argument in favour of the Lord Chief Justice appointing coroners is even stronger than that in favour of him deciding on what the interests of national security may be, and it would be very much easier for him to do. That might be one of the reasons why the Minister seems to be more attracted to that proposal than to the others for the Lord Chief Justice’s role. I strongly urge the Minister to consider his role in both circumstances, but particularly in the appointment of coroners.