some default text...
Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

In addition to these targets, the service is required to meet centrally promulgated targets relating to replying to correspondence from honourable Members, making payments to suppliers and reducing sick absence levels. The service will also look to maintain Charter Mark and Investors in People accreditation following reassessments during 2007-08.

Other TargetsTarget 2007-08Target 2006-07

Reply to correspondence from Members of Parliament within 10 days

100%

100%

Process payments to suppliers in 30 days

100%

100%

Reduce the level of sick absence

7.5 man days per employee

8.5 man days per employee

Iraq and Afghanistan: Military Inquests

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My right honourable friend the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Harriet Harman) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence and I wish to make the following Statement to the House about the inquests of service men and women who have died overseas that fall within the jurisdiction of the Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner.

All casualties suffered by the UK Armed Forces are a source of profound regret. UK service personnel have put their lives on the line to help to build strong, stable and democratic nations and to protect the interests of the United Kingdom, and we cannot pay high enough tribute to the job that they are doing or the sacrifice that some of them have made. We are committed to assisting the families of UK service personnel who have died on operations overseas when their loved ones are returned to the UK.

We made Statements to the House on 5 June, 12 October and 18 December with information about the conduct of inquests by the Oxfordshire coroner and today we are announcing progress made since the Written Ministerial Statement in December.

Background

Coroners are independent judicial officers appointed and paid for by the relevant local authority. Their officers and staff are employed by the local authority and/or the police.

Each death of a service man or woman killed in an operation overseas whose body is repatriated to England and Wales is subject to an inquest. The inquest—both the investigation into the death and the holding of the public hearing into the death—is conducted by the coroner with jurisdiction that derives from where the body lies. In the case of deaths of service men and women whose bodies are flown into Brize Norton military airbase, the Oxfordshire coroner has jurisdiction.

In the 12 months preceding the June Written Ministerial Statement, in addition to the non-Armed Forces inquests that the coroner has in his jurisdiction, Mr Gardiner and his deputy coroners had conducted 31 inquests into the deaths of servicemen who died in Iraq. One inquest was dealt with by the Powys coroner and one by the Wiltshire and Swindon coroner.

At the time of the 5 June Written Ministerial Statement, there remained 59 inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel killed in Iraq and 11 inquests of civilians whose bodies were flown into Brize Norton.

At the time of the 12 October Written Ministerial Statement, a further nine inquests had been held into the deaths of servicemen who have died in Iraq.

When I made the Written Ministerial Statement in June, we had asked the coroner to provide details of inquests only into those deaths in his jurisdiction relating to Iraq. By the time of the October Statement, the coroner had provided us with details of outstanding inquests into six deaths from previous conflicts or other military exercises abroad and three further civilian casualties, the earliest of which occurred in 1998. The position in relation to the inquests in these additional deaths was reported to the House in the 12 October Statement. Including these deaths, there remained 59 inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel and 11 inquests into the deaths of civilians at the time of the October Statement.

By the time of the December Written Ministerial Statement, the coroner had provided us with details of outstanding inquests into six deaths from a military exercise in the Czech Republic in 2004. Including these deaths, there remained 48 inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel and nine inquests into the deaths of civilians who lost their lives in Iraq and whose bodies were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton.

As of today, there remain 25 inquests to be concluded into the deaths of service personnel in military conflicts and exercises overseas whose bodies were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton and four inquests into the deaths of civilians who lost their lives in Iraq and whose bodies were repatriated to RAF Brize Norton.

Further support for the coroner to conduct inquests on deceased Armed Forces personnel

As we reported to the House in the earlier Statements, the Oxfordshire coroner appointed the following as additional assistant deputy coroners to assist with conducting the inquests detailed above:

Sir Richard Curtis, who served as a High Court judge between 1992 and 2005, was appointed on 8 August; Ms Selena Lynch, barrister at law, former full-time coroner for inner south London and currently deputy coroner for south London, was appointed on 5 June; andMr Andrew Walker, barrister at law, deputy coroner for both north London and east London and assistant deputy coroner for both inner London north and inner London south, was appointed on 5 June.

To provide support for the coroner and his assistant deputy coroners, the following resources have been made available:

Three additional coroner’s officers, Mr Geoff Webb, Mr George Gatt and Mr Derrick Bines, have been appointed by Thames Valley Police to support the existing complement of five officers and one officer’s team leader in the Oxfordshire coroner’s office. They are supporting the coroners in various ways, including by contacting witnesses, listing inquests and providing support at inquests.

An additional administrative assistant, Ms Stella Hartley-Morris, has been appointed to the existing administrative assistant in the Oxfordshire coroner’s office to provide administrative support for the investigations and inquests.

Recording equipment to enable two courts to operate simultaneously.

Progress with the remaining inquests

At the time of the December Written Ministerial Statement, all inquests of deaths had been allocated to the assistant deputy coroners. Nineteen inquests had been held (the WMS mistakenly stated 18 inquests), the inquest into the death of Sergeant Roberts was currently being held and a further 50 inquests had been listed for hearing (the WMS mistakenly reported 51 inquests).

The position now is that 56 inquests have been held, 46 into the deaths of servicemen and 10 into the deaths of civilians. All the remaining 25 inquests into servicemen’s deaths have been listed for hearing and pre-inquest hearings have been set in the remaining four civilian inquests. We hope that all the inquests will have been heard by the end of June. We are very grateful for the efforts of all those involved.

We shall continue to keep the House informed on a quarterly basis about progress through the remaining inquests. Below is a table that outlines the status of all cases and the date of death of each case.

We have not included in this Statement inquests into a further 66 service personnel deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan which occurred after 15 May 2006 and which were repatriated into Brize Norton, as the additional support for the coroner outlined above was intended only to clear the backlog of cases that he had in June. Sixteen of these cases have been dispersed to other coroners but there remain 50 inquests where the Oxfordshire coroner has retained jurisdiction which have been opened and adjourned.

Resources have now been made available to the Oxfordshire coroner to enable Andrew Walker to remain as assistant deputy coroner with Geoff Webb as coroner’s officer to complete those inquests where the Oxfordshire coroner assumed responsibility.

Liaison with the next of kin

It is of the greatest importance that the next of kin have full information about the progress on the inquest of their deceased next of kin.

In order to further improve the service to families, I invited to meet me on 4 December 2006 the families of service personnel who died in Iraq whose inquests had been held. We are grateful to the 17 relatives of the 12 deceased service men and women who gave us the benefit of their views and experiences so as to improve the inquest system for the benefit of future families of members of the armed services who die abroad.

Following that meeting, we are working on providing families with better information about the inquest system and on how we can help families to have access to all material relevant to the inquest, and we are holding inquests closer to where the relatives live.

Oxfordshire coroner: inquests of servicemen and related civilian deaths 1998 to May 2006
Date of deathName of deceasedAllocated toIn process of being listed for hearingDate listedDate inquest heard

06.07.98

Kevin Tucker

Andrew Walker

26.02.07 Narrative verdict

11.08.98

Michael Watkins

Andrew Walker

18.01.07 Narrative verdict

09.04.01

Flight Lieutenant Maguire

Andrew Walker

22-26.01.07 Narrative verdicts

09.04.01

Captain Crous

Andrew Walker

22-26.01.07 Narrative verdicts

21.03.03

Lance Bombardier Evans

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Sergeant Hehir

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Major Ward (Royal Marines)

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Captain Guy (Royal Marines)

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Warrant Officer 2 Stratford (Royal Marines)

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Colour Sergeant Cecil (Royal Marines)

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Marine Hedenskog

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

21.03.03

Operator Maintainer (Communications) 1 Seymour (Royal Navy)

Andrew Walker

16.04.07

22.03.03

Lieutenant Wilson

Sir Richard Curtis

03-08.1.07 Accidental death verdicts

22.03.03

Lieutenant West

Sir Richard Curtis

03-08.1.07 Accidental death verdicts

22.03.03

Lieutenant Green

Sir Richard Curtis

03-08.1.07 Accidental death verdicts

22.03.03

Lieutenant Williams

Sir Richard Curtis

03-08.1.07 Accidental death verdicts

22.03.03

Lieutenant King

Sir Richard Curtis

03-08.1.07 Accidental death verdicts

22.03.03

Lieutenant Lawrence

Sir Richard Curtis

03-08.1.07 Accidental death verdicts

22.03.03

Flight Lieutenant Main

Andrew Walker

30-31.10.06 Narrative verdicts

22.03.03

Flight Lieutenant Williams

Andrew Walker

30-31.10.06 Narrative verdicts

22.03.03

Sapper Allsopp

Andrew Walker

29.09.06 Unlawful killing

22.03.03

Staff Sergeant Cullingworth

Andrew Walker

29.09.06 Unlawful killing

22.03.03

Terry Lloyd

Andrew Walker

03-13.10.06 Unlawful killing

24.03.03

Sergeant Roberts

Andrew Walker

11-15.12.06 Narrative verdict

25.03.03

Corporal Allbutt

Andrew Walker

16.4.07 (provisional) PIH in w/c 16.4.07

28.03.03

Lance Corporal of Horse Hull

Andrew Walker

29.1-02.02.07 and 12-13.03.07 Unlawful killing

30.03.03

Lance Corporal Brierley

Nicholas Gardiner

21.06.06 Accidental death

30.03.03

Marine Maddison

Andrew Walker

20.11.06 Narrative verdict

30.03.03

Major Ballard

Andrew Walker

27-30.11.06 Narrative verdict

01.04.03

Lance Corporal Shearer

Selena Lynch

24-26.01.07 Accidental death

06.04.03

Fusilier Turrington

Andrew Walker

28.09.06 Narrative verdict

06.04.03

Private Muzvuru

Selena Lynch

17.11.06 Killed in action

06.04.03

Lance Corporal Malone

Selena Lynch

17.11.06 Killed in action

13.08.03

Private Smith

Andrew Walker

06-10.11.06 Narrative verdict

23.09.03

Sergeant Nightingale

Andrew Walker

27.09.06 Narrative verdict

01.01.04

Sergeant Patterson

Selena Lynch

17.11.06

01.01.04

Major Stenner

Accidental death

02.01.04

Lance Corporal Craw

Andrew Walker

08.01.07 Narrative verdict

24.05.04

Robert Morgan

Nicholas Gardiner

05.07.06 Unlawful killing

24.05.04

Mark Carman

Nicholas Gardiner

05.07.06 Unlawful killing

22.06.06

Antonio Jose Monteiro-Abelha

Andrew Walker

PIH in w/c 16.4.07

28.06.04

Fusilier Gentle

Selena Lynch

02-04.05.07

19.07.04

Flight Lieutenant Gover

Andrew Walker

04.06.07

09.08.04

Private O’Callaghan

Nicholas Gardiner

21.06.06 Unlawful killing

09.09.04

Captain Loose

Andrew Walker

23.04.07

09.09.04

Sergeant Kemp

Andrew Walker

23.04.07

09.09.04

Gunner Kelly

Andrew Walker

23.04.07

09.09.04

Gunner Crain

Andrew Walker

23.04.07

09.09.04

Gunner Gomersall

Andrew Walker

23.04.07

09.09.04

Gunner Dimmock

Andrew Walker

23.04.07

11.10.04

P Chadwick

Selena Lynch

19-21.02.07 Accident

31.10.04

Staff Sergeant Rose

Selena Lynch

13-15.11.06 She killed herself

07.11.04

Shaun Paul Husband

Andrew Walker

PIH in w/c 16.04.07

07.11.04

Joseph Terry

Andrew Walker

PIH in w/c 16.04.07

08.11.04

Private Tukutukuwaqa

Nicholas Gardiner

05.07.06 Unlawful killing

09.12.04

Raj Gurung

Andrew Walker

PIH in w/c 16.04.07

01.01.05

John Dolman

Selena Lynch

26.02.07 Unlawful killing verdicts

01.01.05

Nicholas Pears

Selena Lynch

26.02.07 Unlawful killing verdicts

01.01.05

John Eardley

Selena Lynch

26.02.07 Unlawful killing verdicts

01.01.05

Tracy Hushin

Selena Lynch

26.02.07 Unlawful killing verdicts

01.05.05

Guardsman Wakefield

Selena Lynch

11.12.06 Unlawful killing

25.05.05

Lance Corporal Brackenbury

Andrew Walker

14.05.07

29.06.05

Signaller Didsbury

Andrew Walker

15.01.07 Narrative verdict

15.07.05

Private Spicer

Selena Lynch

29.01.07 Unlawful killing

15.07.05

Private Hewett

Selena Lynch

29.01.07 Unlawful killing

15.07.05

2nd Lieutenant Shearer

Selena Lynch

29.01.07 Unlawful killing

30.07.05

Kenneth Hull

Selena Lynch

13.12.06 Unlawful killing

30.07.05

Andrew Holloway

Selena Lynch

13.12.06 Unlawful killing

05.09.05

Fusilier Manning

Selena Lynch

15.11.06 Unlawful killing

05.09.05

Fusilier Meade

Selena Lynch

15.11.06 Unlawful killing

30.01.06

Lance Corporal Douglas

Selena Lynch

17.11.06 Unlawful killing

31.01.06

Corporal Pritchard

Andrew Walker

21.05.07

02.02.06

Trooper Smith

Selena Lynch

23.02.07 Accident on active service

28.02.06

Private Ellis

Selena Lynch

27.11.06 Unlawful killing

28.02.06

Captain Holmes

Selena Lynch

27.11.06 Unlawful killing

28.02.06

Lieutenant Palmer

Andrew Walker

21.05.07

22.03.06

Corporal Cridge

Selena Lynch

22.02.07 Suicide

27.03.06

Lance Corporal Craddock

Selena Lynch

22.02.07 Accident

07.05.06

Wing Commander John Coxen

Andrew Walker

21.05.07

07.05.06

Lieutenant Commander Darren Chapman

Andrew Walker

21.05.07

07.05.06

Captain David Dobson

Andrew Walker

21.05.07

07.05.06

Flight Lieutenant Sarah-Jayne Mulvihill

Andrew Walker

21.05.07

07.05.06

Marine Paul Collins

15.05.06

Private Morris

Selena Lynch

14.03.07 Both unlawfully killed while on active service

15.05.06

Private Lewaicei

Selena Lynch

Italics denotes non-Iraq-related military death.
Underlined denotes civilian-Iraq-related death.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page