The Chief Coroner, an office created by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, is head of the coroner system, assuming overall responsibility and providing national leadership for coroners in England and Wales.
The appointment of the Chief Coroner is made by the Lord Chief Justice in consultation with the Lord Chancellor. His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, took up his post in September 2012.
HHJ Peter Thornton QC is a Senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), having been appointed in 2007. Before then he was a practising Queen's Counsel and part-time Deputy High Court Judge and Recorder of the Crown Court. He was the coroner at the inquest in 2011 into the death of Ian Tomlinson.
The role of the Chief Coroner
The Chief Coroner has a number of roles but his main responsibilities will be to:
- Provide support, leadership and guidance for coroners in England and Wales;
- Set national standards for all coroners, including new inquest rules;
- Oversee the implementation of the new provisions of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009;
- Put in place suitable training arrangements for coroners and their staff;
- Approve coroner appointments;
- Keep a register of coroner investigations lasting more than 12 months and take steps to reduce unnecessary delays;
- Monitor investigations into the deaths of service personnel;
- Oversee transfers of cases between coroners and direct coroners to conduct investigations;
- Provide an annual report on the coroner system to the Lord Chancellor, to be laid before Parliament;
- Monitor the system where recommendations from inquests are reported to the appropriate authorities in order to prevent further deaths.
Contact the Office of the Chief Coroner
11th Floor - Thomas More Building
Royal Courts of Justice