Under-fire coroner ‘not guilty of misconduct’

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Bradford’s coroner should have been removed from his job “on the grounds of incapacity, not misbehaviour” before resigning amid a top-level inquiry into his behaviour, according to a judge.

But the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice said Dr Peter Straker, who quit in March, was not guilty of misconduct.

Dr Straker was originally suspended on full pay on February 6 last year after the investigation was started by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

He faced allegations including that he arranged a cab driver to transport confidential medical and police records in an unsecured supermarket carrier bag.

It was claimed he had short-term memory problems and told his deputies not to return verdicts of suicide or misadventure even if the facts proved such conclusions were appropriate.

The judge investigating the claims carried on after Mr Straker stepped down, and passed it to Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling and Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas for a final decision.

A statement from the JCIO said: “In this case the Investigating Judge made a recommendation of removal on the grounds of incapacity, not on the grounds of misbehaviour. In these circumstances, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice have not made a finding of misconduct.”