A coroner had an obligation to consider whether the State's investigative duties under Art.2 European Convention on Human Rights had been complied with, and that obligation existed even if the Human Rights Act 1998 had not been in force at the date of the death. The coroner had erred in holding that there was no evidence upon which it could be argued that the police and local authority had failed to fulfil their investigative duties under Art.2.Application for judicial review of the decisions of the defendant coroner ('C') on 19 November 2002 and 25 June 2003 to refuse to resume an inquest into the death of the claimant's ('H') son. H's son was murdered by a neighbour ('AR') on the local authority estate where they both lived. There had been a three year history of threats and violence by AR to his neighbours, particularly H's son, many of which had been reported to police officers of the first interested party ('the police'). At the date of the murder H's son was to have acted as a witness in proceedings brought by the second interested party ('the council') to evict AR. An inquest into the death was started but adjourned pending AR's trial. Following AR's conviction for manslaughter, C declined to exercise his discretion to resume the inquest and maintained the decision following the submission of further evidence. On the present application H argued that: (i) C had an obligation to consider whether the State's investigative duty under Art.2 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been complied with; (ii) contrary to the decision in R (on the application of Khan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (2003) EWHC 1414 Admin, that obligation existed even if the Human Rights Act 1998 had not been in force as at the date of the death; and (iii) C had been wrong to hold that there was no evidence to support an arguable case that the police and the council had failed in their Art.2 duties in that they had known or ought to have known of a real and immediate risk to H's son's life and had not done all that could reasonably have been expected of them in response to that risk.HELD (1) C's obligation to consider whether the State's investigative duty under Art.2 had been complied with was a free-standing duty and it existed even if the 1998 Act had not been in force at the date of the death in question (Khan (supra) not followed). (2) Considering all the evidence, at the dates of C's decisions there had been material before him that arguably gave rise to a breach of the duties under Art.2, by either the police or the council. (3) C's decisions to refuse to resume the inquest were fatally flawed and breached his obligation under the 1998 Act to act compatibly with the Convention. (4) In those circumstances C's decisions would be quashed with a direction to resume the inquest.Application allowed.

[2003] EWHC 1721 (QB)

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