Memorandum submitted by Coroners Society of England and Wales (CTB 5)
May I thank you, the committee and staff for their kindness and courtesy shown to me today when I gave evidence at 1.45 pm.
I am most grateful to Mr Geoff Bradshaw an official in the Coroners' Unit at the MOJ for pointing out to me this evening an error in my evidence. I wish to unreservedly apologise to you and the committee for my error and wish to put the record straight. At the start of my evidence Mr Dominic Grieve asked me, "When did your organisation first know of the government intention to legislate in this fashion?" I hesitated and then said, "probably in the last two or three weeks" I was then asked "... it looks as if you were not consulted on the contents of that part of the bill at all". I replied, "... not at all". I wish to correct that answer. I had in mind for some reason the e-mail invitation to attend before the committee and this was in the last two to three weeks. I was aware of the coroner sections in the Counter-terrorism bill before then.
I do not have the full details as to when I was first given information about these proposals. I will however do my best to explain to the committee the facts to the best of my recollection.
On the 4th January 2008 I was talking with an official in the Coroners' unit at the MOJ and was told that he wanted to raise a new issue with me when he saw me the following Monday.
On the afternoon of 7th January 2008 I was told about plans to include a coroner section in the Counter Terrorism bill. I do not think I was given anything in writing but I was told that this was a Home Office bill and not a MOJ bill. I do not recall the extent to which the plans were explained.
I have a Word document dated the 23rd January 2008 containing the proposed coroner clauses and I have three PDF documents dated the 24th January 2008 including the draft bill, explanatory notes and initial print.
I wrote to the Coroners Unit about the draft bill on the 29th January 2008.
An official in the Coroners Unit replied on 15th February.
Apart from being in meetings when other stakeholders were told of these plans by the MOJ officials I cannot recall the matter being considered until I was contacted again by the Coroners Unit on the 2nd April 2008.
This was followed the same day by an e-mailed invitation from the Scrutiny Unit at the House of Commons.
It was only after I received this invitation that I went through the bill in detail considering the matters containing in my written submission sent to the Scrutiny office on Tuesday of this week, which I understand was circulated to members yesterday. I have been hearing cases, making decisions or attending meetings over these past few weeks apart from a period of five-days leave during the school early-summer holidays and have had to find time to consider this matter.
Please again accept my unreserved apologies for my error, I certainly did not intend to mislead the committee.