Armed Forces: Inquests

House of Lords written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of Lord Tebbit Lord Tebbit Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the practice of conducting civil inquests into the deaths in action of service personnel killed in action in overseas conflict zones first arose.

Photo of Baroness Ashton of Upholland Baroness Ashton of Upholland Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

Since the Court of Appeal judgment in Helen Smith in 1983, it has been mandatory for an inquest to be held into a death overseas where the body is repatriated to England and Wales and the death is unnatural, violent or sudden, of unknown cause or occurred in custody. This includes the deaths of service personnel killed in exercises and conflicts overseas. Before 1983, coroners had discretion about whether to hold an inquest in deaths that occurred overseas where the body was repatriated to England and Wales.

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