Camden council leader Georgia Gould and MPs write to chief coroner about Inner North London coroner Mary Hassell

PUBLISHED: 11:16 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:16 29 January 2018

Mary Hassell has been senior coroner for north London since 2013

Mary Hassell has been senior coroner for north London since 2013


The leader of Camden Council and the borough’s two MPs have written to England and Wales’ Chief Coroner to raise their concerns about the borough’s senior coroner, Mary Hassell.

In an email sent at the end of last week, Cllr Georgia Gould, as well as Holborn and St Pancras MP Keir Starmer, and Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq said they “fundamentally disagree with” Ms Hassell’s position that she or one of her deputies cannot agree for a body to be released, from her own home.

Ms Hassell has previously said there are a number of significant additional things that she would like in place to be able to provide this service.

The row had broken out in October after Ms Hassell had stopped prioritising religious burials, which has sparked criticism in recent weeks.

Under Jewish and Islamic law, bodies must be buried on the day of death or as soon as possible afterwards. Both faiths also view invasive post-mortems as desecration, preferring CT body scans.

The letter has also been sent to MPs and council leaders in Hackney, Tower Hamlets, and Islington, which along with Camden, forms the Inner North London district that Ms Hassell covers. Camden is the lead borough for the district.

The three politicians have also requested an urgent meeting with the chief coroner, Judge Mark Lucraft, to discuss the issues.

It has also been sent to Sidney Sinitsky, head of the Adath Yisroel Burial Society (AYBS), and Mohamed Omer, from the Gardens of Peace Islamic Cemetery in Ilford.

The letter also talks about the Camden councillor Abdul Hai’s work to try and make the area’s coroner’s service more suitable for the Jewish and Muslim communities.

This includes an out-of-hours service, the introduction of non-invasive post-mortem techniques, making the service more accessible, a national service charter, and for the Government to provide guidance on cultural issues.

Last week the leader of Islington council, Cllr Richard Watts wrote to Cllr Hai to share his concerns over Ms Hassell not showing the necessary regard for ethnic and religious sensitivities.

A spokeswoman for Ms Hassell declined to comment, as it would be incompatible with her judicial role.

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