ICCL: Deaths in Contested Circumstances and Coroners’ Inquests: Time for Reform? – 7 February

Date: 7 February 2019

Time: 4pm

Venue: Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Custom House, 1 Custom House Quay

When faced with an unexpected death, an inquest offers families the only means of establishing the 'truth' of the circumstances of that death. Yet bereaved families quickly discover that an inquest is limited to establishing the bare facts. There is no identification of any person who might have contributed to the death.

Inquests, they discover, are not courts of liability - there is no guilt nor innocence established by the verdict of the court.

ICCL is coordinating new research into the coronal system in Ireland. It invites you to a public event which will draw on the expertise of people who have worked on some of the most controversial cases in England and Northern Ireland, such as the Ballymurphy and the Hillsborough cases. The panel will examine the key issues facing bereaved families at inquests: coronal independence, legal aid, legal representation, access to investigation reports, juries, and narrative verdicts. Recent reforms in England will be discussed, as well as concerns that continue to be raised by bereaved families seeking justice through the full revelation of the facts.


  • Prof Phil Scraton, Professor Emeritus at QUB,will outline why inquests matter. Prof Scraton’s research includes the investigation of and inquiry into controversial deaths, most notably the Hillsborough* disaster. He has also researched deaths in custody, the marginalisation and criminalisation of children and young people, the politics of imprisonment, and the analysis of disasters and their impact on the bereaved and survivors
  • Dr Vicky Conway is a leading researcher on policing in Ireland with an emphasis on the intersection between social change, police culture and police accountability. Dr Conway will indicate some problems already identified with the Irish coronial system in various reports and will also outline the nature of the project.
  • Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, London, specialising in human rights, public law and media law. She has acted in many landmark human rights cases in the UK in recent years, including acting for bereaved families and survivors of the 7/7 London bombings, and the Hillsborough* disaster. Caoilfhionn regularly acts for bereaved families whose loved ones have died in suspicious circumstances, or where questions are raised regarding State accountability.
  • Deborah Coles is the director of INQUEST, the only charity in England and Wales to provide expertise on state related deaths and their investigation to bereaved people, lawyers, advice and support agencies, the media and parliamentarians.
  • Raju Bhatt is a partner at Bhatt Murphy Solicitors in London. He specialises in providing help to members of the public who seek accountability from the state and its officers, with a focus upon the treatment of individuals by the criminal justice system.
  • Dr Kathryn Chadwick is a Principal Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and is a leading academic voice on deaths in custody.

*please note panellists will not be able to answer questions on aspects of the Hillsborough case which are sub-judice.

Click here to register.

This research is part-funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.






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