From: David A Russell, Thornhill Street, Wakefield.
I WAS very sorry, indeed, to read that David Hinchliff, HM Coroner, had announced his retirement, (Coroner to retire after dealing with more than 100,000 deaths, The Yorkshire Post, April 25). However, I was utterly dismayed to find that the salient report contained gratuitous references to a so-called “watchdog” investigation, a “backlog” of cases and a ”ban from driving”.
It has been my great privilege to have dealt with Mr Hinchliff in a professional capacity, since he took up his post in 1993.
Thereafter, as HM Coroner for the County of West Yorkshire, Eastern District, he has served our community with great distinction. Most importantly of all, Mr Hinchliff has combined his considerable investigative, forensic analytical skills, and legal knowledge, with the display of unfailing courtesy to, and empathy with, the bereaved families appearing before him, often in the most tragic of circumstances.
Few people would be aware that Mr Hinchliff has presided over some of the highest profile inquests in the land. In some of those complex and highly contentious cases, Mr Hinchliff has had to stand his ground, and to tackle, without fear or favour, major corporations, and NHS trusts. I well recall Mr Hinchliff’s relentless tenacity in leading the coronial inquiry into the circumstances of a young man’s death, where his stand resulted in Crown Court proceedings being taken against the employers, who were subsequently convicted of corporate manslaughter, a markedly rare occurrence.
Instead of repeating old news about a perceived backlog of cases, (consequent upon lack of funding to the Coroner’s Office), it would have been more appropriate to have reviewed some of Mr Hinchliff’s remarkable achievements, while carrying out his duties (many of them onerous) as Senior Coroner.
Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that when Mr Hinchliff took up his office, the Coroner’s Service in this region was struggling. Over the last decade, under Mr Hinchliff’s stewardship, the Coroner’s Service in Wakefield and Leeds has undergone a remarkable transition.
A great many families will have cause to be grateful to Mr Hinchliff for turning one of the most difficult events in their lives, into an experience where they were treated with the utmost consideration and respect, and came away with the certain knowledge that justice had been done.