A judgment handed down on 30th March, 2021, by the Supreme Court, means that the family of Andrew Stephen HALL, a 43 year old Huddersfield man who died following police custody in 2016, will not see the officers give evidence about the incidents leading up to his death, writes Neil Wilby.
At a pre-inquest hearing in June, 2019, the Assistant Coroner for West Yorkshire (Western Area), Oliver Longstaff, ruled that, as part of special measures to preserve the anonymity of sixteen police officers, they would be allowed give their evidence screened from all but the coroner, the jury and the legal representatives of the interested parties.
This decision became the subject of protracted legal proceedings and arguments for and against have been heard, successively, at the Administrative Court in Leeds, where the judge overturned the ruling, then at the Court of Appeal where the law lords, on a majority decision, quashed the judicial review finding (read more here).
The press office at the Supreme Court say that an application to challenge that decision was refused earlier this week on the grounds that ‘there was no arguable point of law’.
The inquest touching the death of Mr Hall will now open at Bradford Crown Court on Monday 19th April, 2021, where two courtrooms will be in use for what is scheduled to be a ten week hearing. It was originally listed to be heard in November, 2019. If permission to appeal had been granted by the Supreme Court it would have meant a further delay of well over a year (read more here).
The picture shows the inside of a courtroom, at neighbouring Leeds Crown Court, featuring the measures in place to counter the effects of the virus epidemic.
Legal costs for all parties to the inquest are expected to have topped £1 million before the inquest opens. Freedom of information requests have been made to those expected to have spent the most, notably West Yorkshire Police, the Police Federation of England and Wales, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and Bradford Council (host authority of the coroner’s office). It has been heard, at pre-inquest hearings, that Mr Hall’s family have been funded, largely, by the Legal Aid Agency.
Page last updated: Saturday 3rd April, 2021 at 0915 hours
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Picture Credit: Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service
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