In my early career at the Bar, I served for 6 years as an Assistant Deputy Coroner at Westminster. During this time I became committed to the proper practice of the law and the usefulness of inquests in helping the bereaved to understand fully the circumstances of the death and to learn lessons so that other families might be spared their suffering.
Unfortunately there are still too many cases where families do not get the answers they deserve. It is important for the bereaved to be properly represented by counsel who are well acquainted with the law and who have a sufficient understanding of the pathology, the clinical circumstances and the complexities of the technical evidence to be able to call the medical and nursing professions to account when things go wrong.
I was appointed President of the South East England Coroners’ Society in 1987. I have published 3 books on coroners law (with Dr Paul Knapman) in addition to papers and chapters in various medico-legal texts.
The Coroners and Justice Act 2009 is now in force and the new Coroners Rules (2013) and Regulations (2013) are in operation. These strengthen coroners’ powers and with the awaited introduction of medical examiners to assist in picking out more cases where medical treatment has led to an unnatural death, the coroner’s workload will increase substantially.
It is important for relatives to act quickly where there is any concern that the death has been caused by bad medical practice in order to ensure that the Inquest can be used to get to the truth of what happened. I am often instructed to represent families at this difficult time and I hope to be able to assist by bringing sensitive compassion combined with a ruthless determination to call to account all whose poor or careless practice may have played a role in the death.
As part of my practice relates to aviation, I am also instructed in fatal helicopter crashes.
My interest in this area of the law has led to my involvement in a number of high profile cases and to me being consulted by the media for my observations in many others.