Coroner rules out inquest into death of Baby P

Paula Fentiman,Pa
Tuesday 30 November 2010 10:58 GMT

An inquest into the death of Baby P will not go ahead, a coroner ruled today.

The 17-month-old, now named as Peter Connelly, died at the hands of his mother Tracey, her sadistic boyfriend Steven Barker and Barker's brother Jason Owen in August 2007.

All three were subsequently jailed for causing or allowing his death.

Peter had suffered more than 50 injuries despite receiving 60 visits from social workers, doctors and police at his home in Tottenham, north London, over an eight-month period.

North London Coroner Andrew Walker said he believed questions about the circumstances of the toddler's death had already been answered in previous investigations by state agencies and there was therefore insufficient cause for him to hold an inquest.

Earlier this month, the coroner heard submissions from lawyers including those representing Baby P's father, the Metropolitan Police and Barker in a pre-inquest hearing.

It was argued that an inquest would be expensive and that all salient facts had already emerged during inquiries into Peter's care.

But Peter's father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was said to be keen for an inquest to take place to find out exactly what happened to his son.

Looking at the question of the circumstances in which Peter died, Mr Walker told North London Coroner's Court in High Barnet there had been a "number of investigations that followed the tragic death of Peter Connelly".

Some were in public, others conducted in private but partially published, he added.

"When I look at the reports I ask myself whether the circumstances are those where, despite a number proceedings, there are potential witnesses who are yet to give evidence," he said.

"On the material I have seen it seems to me that the evidence taken as part of the investigations has gone right to the heart of the circumstances of how Peter Connelly died and has led to significant criticism, changes in practices and procedures and many lessons have been learned.

"In my judgment the question of in what circumstances Baby Peter Connelly died has been answered."

The coroner, who was previously responsible for military inquests in Oxfordshire, said he had taken the submissions on board and concluded that the legal criteria for holding an inquest had been fulfilled.

He said: "It is not my belief, having regard to the material before me, that a resumed inquest is likely to unearth new and significant facts.

"Having considered the matter carefully, in my judgment, looking at the totality of the investigations, the criteria have been fulfilled.

"I have carefully considered all the submissions placed before me but I do not have sufficient cause to resume the inquest touching the death of Peter Connelly.

"Even if I am wrong and the criteria have not been met, I feel that the coroner's inquest is not the best forum for such an inquiry."

Peter's father did not attend today's hearing but his lawyer, Julien Foster, asked the coroner to delay formally ending proceedings by issuing a death certificate for 28 days to allow his client to consider the judgment.

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