Coroner ruling

Michael Sheffield, HM Coroner for Teesside
Michael Sheffield, HM Coroner for Teesside

A GOVERNMENT watchdog says no formal disciplinary action will be taken against a coroner who has been criticised for the time it takes to hold inquests.

Michael Sheffield, HM Coroner for Teesside, was under investigation because families currently face an average 44-week wait until an inquest is held - almost twice the national average and longer than then the 14-week wait for families served in Hartlepool.

The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice reviewed findings from Middlesbrough Council’s community safety and leisure scrutiny committee and the Probation Service.

A spokesperson for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “The Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice are of the view that there is no evidence to suggest that the delays have been caused as a result of Mr Sheffield’s conduct and they concluded that no formal disciplinary action is required.

“However, the Lord Chief Justice has issued informal advice to Mr Sheffield on the importance of keeping the issues of backlog and delay continuously under review.”

Mr sherffield, who covers the stockton area, holds inquest for anyone from Hartlepool who dies in unusual circumstances in the University Hospital of North Tees Hospital.