BBC delays journalist's inquest

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The Independent Online

The family of Kate Peyton, a BBC journalist who was murdered in Somalia, have accused the corporation of forcing a last-minute delay of the inquest into her death.

Lawyers acting for the BBC failed yesterday at a private hearing before the Greater Suffolk coroner, Dr Peter Dean, to restrict the scope of the inquest, which the family called an attempt to prevent the scrutiny of the organisation's procedures and actions in the run-up to the killing. The BBC did, however, obtain an adjournment of the hearing to study witness statements.

Ms Peyton, a news producer, was killed in February 2005 outside her hotel in Mogadishu by a gunman believed to be a member of an Islamist militia. She had flown to the Somali capital from Johannesburg at short notice at a time of heightened violence.

The full inquest into her death was due to start at Bury St Edmunds next week, during which her family and her fiancé, Roger Koy, were due, they said in a statement, to "recognise from the BBC that the circumstances in which she was sent into the war zone were far from ideal".

Ms Peyton's family continued: "The BBC sought to prevent scrutiny of the risk assessment provided just prior to Kate's departure and of whether Kate was under pressure to go to Mogadishu."

According to friends of Ms Peyton, the BBC's Somali service had not idea that Ms Peyton was arriving in Mogadishu. Ms Peyton's brother, Charles, said: "It has surprised us all that ... the BBC continues to find issues we have consistently raised for more than three years so difficult to process. More money and time is, of course, being wasted by this delay."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "The inquest has been adjourned for legal reasons and we have nothing further to say."