Inquest juries 'must not attribute blame'
The decision has wide implications in view of the growing practice among juries to resort to verdicts in which 'lack of care' is deemed to have been a factor. Verdicts of this kind, which may impute responsibility to people facing civil or criminal action in the wake of a death, are unacceptable, the three judges said.
Sir Thomas Bingham, the Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lords Justices McCowan and Hirst, urged this new restraint after rejecting an appeal attacking the conduct of a 1991 inquest into the death of Michael Jamieson, 33, a convicted murderer while in a cell at Full Sutton Prison, York.
They said it was not an inquest jury's function 'to apportion guilt or attribute blame' and to do so would be unfair on those who might face criminal proceedings arising out of a death.
Roy Jamieson, of Newham, east London, brother of the dead man, accused Peter Gladwin, the North Humberside coroner, of wrongly preventing a jury from deciding whether there had been 'lack of care' by the prison authorities.
Michael Jamieson was serving a sentence of at least 30 years for murder and other offences including armed burglary. His brother alleged that, in clear breach of Home Office rules, Michael was left alone in a single cell without supervision even though it was known that he was suicidal.
The judges said Roy Jamieson was suggesting that the doctors and the prison authorities 'gave the deceased an opportunity to take his own life'. Even if that was accepted that case could not support a verdict that neglect contributed to the suicide, they said.
Revealed: Stunning new images show gold-plated, ultra-luxurious Riyadh metro station that Saudi king has ordered to be built
World news in pictures
Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
Oklahoma tornado latest: Rescue effort nears an end after President Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
Video emerges of Pope Francis reportedly performing an exorcism
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 China agrees to impose carbon targets by 2016
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Salary Package - £60K to £120K: Austen Lloyd: We have an exciting op...
£200 - £250 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Java Developer - Urgent Requirem...
£70000 - £95000 per annum + Bonus, flexible working hours, remote work: Progre...
£50000 - £56000 per annum + Benefits package, flexible working hours: Progress...