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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Reprimand for coroner case delays
The Lord Chancellor has severely reprimanded the Teesside coroner after complaints some families had to wait up to two years for inquest verdicts.

The inquiry into Michael Sheffield's Coroner's Court was launched last year.

A report, published on Monday, said Mr Sheffield had not fully discharged his responsibilities in handling the growing backlog of inquest cases.

Mr Sheffield's solicitor said the backlog was well under control and had been substantially eradicated.

Considerable progress

Mr Sheffield was appointed HM Coroner for Teesside in 1972.

In a statement, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, said although he was satisfied that progress had been made on the backlog since last summer, the situation would be kept under close review.

Mr Sheffield will also be providing evidence to the Lord Chancellor regarding the workload of his office and the progress being made on the backlog.

Mr Sheffield's solicitor, Tony Eastwood, said in a statement: "The Lord Chancellor has taken into account and not made any criticism of Mr Sheffield's working practices, nor of his handling of the non-inquest cases, which amount to well over 2,000 a year, or to the thoroughness of his preparation for and holding of inquests.

"The Lord Chancellor has informed Mr Sheffield of his hope that Mr Sheffield will move forward in his role and continue his important task of tackling the backlog upon which considerable progress has been made."

Inquiry into inquest backlog
25 Jul 03  |  Tees

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