Leaders meet Michael Gove over coroners' service


Senior representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities met Justice Secretary Michael Gove on Tuesday to discuss concerns over the coroner service in London.

The two communities have clashed with the senior coroner for Inner North London, Mary Hassell, in recent months, over the scrapping of weekends and out-of-hours services which has meant burials being delayed.

The delegates called on the government to take a lead in implementing an out-of-hours provision across London.

Mr Gove said there was a willingness to work together to secure such a service.

He also aimed to increase efficiency by introducing modernisation.

The Jewish representatives included lawyer Trevor Asserson, former London Beth Din head Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, Rabbi Asher Gratt of the Adath Yisroel Burial Society, and Marcelle Palmer of the Board of Deputies.

Imam Maulana Yunus Dudhwala, of the Newham University Hospital NHS Trust, and Mehmood Mapara of the Tottehham Parks Islamic Cemetery Association represented the Muslim community.

Rabbi Gratt told Mr Gove: “People of the Muslim and Jewish faiths are highly traumatised by the delay of a funeral. Their pain is often worse than the pain of the death itself.

"Their trauma can be compared by way of analogy to the anguish of relatives of victims of an air crash waiting for the retrieval of their body”.

A judicial review is to take place next month over the coroner’s use of invasive autopsies against the wishes of Jewish and Muslim families.

In a later statement, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State was very happy to meet with community leaders to hear from them about their first-hand experiences of the system.

“We are sympathetic to the concerns raised during the meeting. We will now look further at these issues and work together to determine the best course of action.”

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