London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore calls for senior coroner Mary Hassell to be sacked

Andrew Dismore. Picture: PA/Nick Ansell

Andrew Dismore. Picture: PA/Nick Ansell - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, has added his voice to the calls for the resignation of Inner North London coroner Mary Hassell.

Ms Hassell is at the centre of a row over her decision to withdraw special burial arrangements for members of the Jewish and Muslim communities.

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 postmortems as desecration, preferring CT body scans and autopsies only as a last resort.

Mr Dismore writes in the Ham&High: “I was appalled to read about the problems Ms Mary Hassell, the Senior Coroner for Inner North London, has caused for bereaved Jewish and Muslim families.

I recall these problems began several years ago after her move from Wales, where she probably did not have experience of the needs of minority communities.

One would have thought that before applying for the job, she might have reflected on the needs of one of the country’s biggest Jewish communities and our large and growing Muslim population, including the need for prompt burial, watching over the deceased, and avoiding invasive autopsies.

Since her appointment, Ms Hassell has faced one court case after another, with legal costs in six figures met by taxpayers, brought by bereaved families to whom she should have given space to grieve not force to the court room to obtain respect for their cultural expectations.

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Our corner of London is amongst the most diverse in the country.

Ms Hassell’s insensitive behaviour– probably unique in our local public services- flies in the face of harmonious community relations and cannot be tolerated any longer.

It is long overdue that she should go.

The Lord Chancellor should sack her, if he cares about the reputation of our legal system.”