Renewed Calls for Alice Gross Blunder Coroner to Step Down

Receives reprimand despite tribunal finding him guilty of serious misconduct


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The coroner who was taken off the Alice Gross case after he mislaid confidential files relating to her murder is facing renewed calls to stand down.

It has emerged that Chinyere Inyama has been reinstated to his role last month despite being found guilty of serious misconduct after a 14 month inquiry into his behaviour.

Chinyere Inyama
Chinyere Inyama

There had been numerous complaints about him including allegations of bullying, dealing insensitively with bereaved families, sexist comments and a growing back log of cases with new complaints against him published in the Sun newspaper this week. Hammersmith MP, Andy Slaughter, raised the issue in the Commons saying, " Despite previous findings of serious misconduct, three-year delays in issuing death certificates, secret inquests being held at night and important case papers being lost, he has been cleared by the Secretary of State to return to work. Will the Secretary of State meet west London MPs and council leaders to discuss this crisis?" The Secretary of State agreed to take the meeting.

In 2015 the six councils served by the West London Coroner which includes Ealing wrote to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) asking that action be taken against him. In 2016 he was issued with ‘formal advice’ by the Lord Chancellor after an inquiry into the loss of documents relating to the death of Alice Gross. It is believed that he left a report on her killer Arnis Zalkalns on a train which police had specifically told him not to remove from his office.

After further complaints about him were received, he was suspended on full pay in October 2016 but was reinstated at the end of last year without an announcement being made although it is understood that he has yet to return to work. His case was reviewed by the then-Lord Chancellor David Lidington, who became Minister for the Cabinet Office in the recent reshuffle, and Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett who concluded that his behaviour amounted to serious misconduct. However, they did not recommend that he be fired despite the urging of Hammersmith & Fulham Council that represents the interests of the other councils in this matter and he was only reprimanded. Only the Lord Chancellor can remove a coroner.

On December 21 last year, the JCIO released a statement saying that the coroner “had bullied a member of coronial staff and that this behaviour, together with texts and remarks to a second member of coronial staff, amounted to serious misconduct”.

A spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which pays his salary on behalf of the five boroughs in his jurisdiction including Ealing, said, “We believe the best result for bereaved families is for Mr Inyama to resign.”

In an interview with the Sun newspaper former assistant deputy coroner for Westminster, Dr Michael J Powers QC, said, “It is incomprehensible that he has not been removed. Such behaviour is not only totally unacceptable, it shows an absence of judgment which is wholly incompatible with coronial office.”

Mr Inyama, who is married with six children, has a degree in Pharmacology and Biochemistry from Leeds University as well as a Master’s degree in Experimental Pathology before he qualified as a solicitor. He has been Senior Coroner in the jurisdiction of West London since 2013, after two years in the same role in East London.

Neil Sherry of local undertaker W Sherry & Sons told the Sun that Mr Inyama presided over a complete implosion of the service requiring that a temporary mortuary had to be set up because of an eight week delay in processing bodies.

The Sun also quotes from people who worked with Mr Inyama saying that they had to leave the service because of his behaviour. They claim 14 people resigned because of him including former police officers.

Mr Inyama has not responded to press requests for comment.


January 25, 2018

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