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Coroners' inquests will continue to be held in public in NI

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Coroners' hearings in Northern Ireland will continue to be held in public after concerns were raised about inquests being held behind closed doors in other parts of the UK. (Chris Ison/PA)

Coroners' hearings in Northern Ireland will continue to be held in public after concerns were raised about inquests being held behind closed doors in other parts of the UK. (Chris Ison/PA)

Coroners' hearings in Northern Ireland will continue to be held in public after concerns were raised about inquests being held behind closed doors in other parts of the UK. (Chris Ison/PA)

Coroners' hearings in Northern Ireland will continue to be held in public after concerns were raised about inquests being held behind closed doors in other parts of the UK.

It comes after the Society of Editors (SoE) wrote to the Chief Coroner to seek assurances hearings will be held in public after inquests into deaths in Wales were staged behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The SoE says it fully endorses action taken by the Press Association to reverse a decision by the senior coroner at Gwent Coroner's Court in Newport to stage inquests in private and release conclusions afterwards.

"It is precisely during times of crisis such as the one we are experiencing now that liberal, democratic societies must preserve those freedoms that protect them no matter how inconvenient," SoE executive director Ian Murray said. "An investigation into the death of a citizen must never be held in secret or we face fundamental dangers as a society."

Under UK law the public can only be excluded from inquests if the coroner considers it would be in the interests of national security to do so. The NI Coroners Service said: "Legislation in Northern Ireland provides that inquests have to be held in public. There have been no discussions about holding inquests in private."

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan is also reviewing the gradual recovery of court business here.

Belfast Telegraph