Is the UK Inquest System Fair?

(This is an article that was written for my Media, Law & Ethics module at University)

The UK inquest system can be argued both fair and unfair depending on the inquest case. An inquest is needed in some cases to determine who the deceased was, when and where the death took place as well as how the person died.

When an inquest case is brought to court there are neither defence lawyers nor prosecutor lawyers and there is no blame put on anyone. The inquest is simply based around the death of the person.

There are different examples over the years, which can either support or go against the UK inquest system. This essay will investigate two cases, the Hillsborough disaster and the death of Mark Saunders.

The Hillsborough disaster took place in 1989 and resulted in the death of 94 people on the day with a further two deaths later on. A total of 55 people died at the time of the disaster with a further 41 confirmed dead after 3:15pm. The public and the family of those who died at the disaster were made to believe that the cause of death was accidental. The inquest provided by the coroner suggested that all the deaths had happened before 3:15pm. The public and the family of those who had died saw this as a cover up made by the police who insisted that the cause of deaths were due to the Liverpool football fans alone.  It later emerged that the police could have saved those 41 lives on the day however the police fixed the information in their favour stating that all deaths were prior to 3:15pm. In this case the UK inquest system protected the police, if it wasn’t for the journalists who uncovered the truth 23 years later. The inquest protected the police who has led to get themselves out of the picture for any blame over the deaths of the Hillsborough disaster.

Another example of an inquest that took place in UK is the death of Mark Saunders, a barrister who was shot dead by the police in 2008. Mark Saunders had been under the influence of alcohol and possessing a handgun as he was firing shots at his home in Chelsea. The police shot Mr Saunders dead as they feared for the safety of the public. At the inquest, the jury accepted that it was the right decision to shoot Mr Saunders. However, it would have been a much better decision for the police to allow Mr Saunders to sober up instead of surrounding him with firearms. This inquest, much like the inquest for the Hillsborough Disaster protected the police, as when giving evidence at the inquest the police were granted anonymity. The wife of Mr Saunders accepted that the police, a result concluded by the inquest, killed Mark Saunders lawfully.

A future inquest that will be investigated will be the death of Mark Duggan after being shot by the police. His death was a trigger for the UK summer riots in 2011.

It can be concluded that the UK inquest system protects the police when they kill someone. However it does not mean that the inquest system makes the right decision, as it does not always provide justice for the family members of the person who had been killed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *