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Family of murdered Ann Maguire lose challenge on calling evidence from pupils

The teacher was stabbed in the back by 15-year-old Will Cornick as she taught a Spanish class.

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Ann Maguire was stabbed in the back by a pupil as she taught a Spanish class (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

Ann Maguire was stabbed in the back by a pupil as she taught a Spanish class (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

Ann Maguire was stabbed in the back by a pupil as she taught a Spanish class (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

The family of teacher Ann Maguire have lost their challenge against a coroner’s decision not to call evidence from pupils who had contact with her schoolboy killer immediately before the murder.

Mrs Maguire’s husband Don, children and nephews – who were not at London’s High Court for the ruling on Monday – wanted Mr Justice Holroyde to order the decision taken by assistant West Yorkshire coroner Kevin McLoughlin to be reconsidered.

An inquest into Mrs Maguire’s death is due to take place before a jury at Wakefield Coroner’s Court in November.

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Don Maguire and his daughter Kerry outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Don Maguire and his daughter Kerry outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Don Maguire and his daughter Kerry outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The 61-year-old teacher was stabbed in the back by 15-year-old Will Cornick as she taught a Spanish class at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds in April 2014.

Cornick was later sentenced to life with a minimum term of 20 years.

Dismissing the claim for judicial review, the judge said: “I have much sympathy for the claimants, and I fully understand their reasons for wishing to pursue this line of inquiry.

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Tributes for Ann Maguire outside Corpus Christi School in Leeds (Lynne Cameron/PA )

Tributes for Ann Maguire outside Corpus Christi School in Leeds (Lynne Cameron/PA )

Tributes for Ann Maguire outside Corpus Christi School in Leeds (Lynne Cameron/PA )

“For the reasons I have given, however, I am unable to accept the submission that the assistant coroner reached a decision which was so seriously flawed as to be …unreasonable.”

Counsel Nick Armstrong told the judge that it was the only occasion on which a teacher had been killed by a pupil in a British classroom and the family were anxious “that all the lessons that can be learned from this enormous tragedy are learned”.

He said the coroner accepted that the inquest should address school rules and policies about weapons in school, reporting the presence of weapons in school, and how those rules and policies had been communicated to students.

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People attend the memorial service for Ann Maguire at Leeds Town Hall ( Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

People attend the memorial service for Ann Maguire at Leeds Town Hall ( Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

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People attend the memorial service for Ann Maguire at Leeds Town Hall ( Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

This was because over the three hours before the murder, Cornick told other students what he intended to do, and showed a number of them the knife – yet no report to a member of staff was made, at least until it was too late.

The coroner said that all those students – now adults – were “potentially vulnerable” and were not to be re-approached, with the result that only transcripts of their interviews with police at the time would be adduced.

Mr Armstrong said this approach was unlawful as the decision was a blanket one based on limited and generic evidence about vulnerability generally.

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Tributes for Ann Maguire outside Corpus Christi school (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Tributes for Ann Maguire outside Corpus Christi school (Lynne Cameron/PA)

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Tributes for Ann Maguire outside Corpus Christi school (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Cathryn McGahey QC argued that the decision was lawfully open to the assistant coroner who was “uniquely well-placed” to make it.

The request to call the former pupils was opposed by other interested parties – including the sisters of Mrs Maguire, one of whom was an experienced teacher – who were concerned about the effect that giving evidence might have on these young people, she added.

And Leeds City Council had said the facts regarding the morning of the incident were already clear and required no duplication of inquiry.

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Ann Maguire's family want lessons to be learned (Peter Byrne/PA)

Ann Maguire's family want lessons to be learned (Peter Byrne/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Ann Maguire's family want lessons to be learned (Peter Byrne/PA)

Yogi Amin, partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “Ann Maguire’s family will now take stock and discuss the options with their legal team.

“They remain committed to finding out the truth and exactly what happened on the day Ann was killed through a thorough, open and fair process.

“They believe it is the only way that lessons will be learned from the incident.”

PA