Sir Robert Owen to act as coroner for the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko

|Media Release

Sir Robert Owen has been appointed by the Deputy Coroner for the Inner North London District of Greater London to be an Assistant Deputy Coroner for the purposes of conducting the inquest into the death of Alexander Litvinenko on 23 November 2006.

Sir Robert will hold a pre-inquest review, in public, on 20 September 2012 at which he will give directions as to the conduct of the inquest.

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Notes for Editors

  1. Sir Robert Michael Owen has been a Judge of the High Court, Queen’s Bench Division, since 2001. He was called to the Bar (Inner Temple) in 1968 and became a QC in 1988. From 2005–08 he was the Presiding Judge of the Western Circuit.

  2. A photograph of Sir Robert Owen can be downloaded here: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/images/sir-robert-owen.jpg.

    Photo credit should read: Judicial Office/Crown Copyright. NOTE TO EDITORS: This photo may only be used in connection with the reporting of the Litvinenko inquest. Reuse of the picture for uses unconnected to the Litvinenko inquest will require the permission of the copyright holder.

  3. Sir Robert Owen will not be doing any media interviews regarding his appointment as Assistant Deputy Coroner or in relation to the inquest.

  4. Previous appointments of serving and retired judges as assistant deputy coroners include – Lady Justice Hallett to conduct the inquest into the deaths of those killed in the London bombings on 7 July 2005; Lord Justice Scott Baker to conduct the inquests into the deaths of Princess Diana and Mr Dodi Al Fayed; Sir Michael Wright to conduct the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes and more recently HH Judge Peter Thornton QC who conducted the inquest into the death of Ian Tomlinson in the City of London. Like these appointees, Mr Justice Owen will have the same powers as a coroner when conducting an inquest.

  5. By the kind agreement of Sir Thayne Forbes, the pre inquest review on 20 September 2012 will be held at 10.30 am in the hearing room of The Al Sweady Inquiry at Finlaison House, 15-17 Furnival Street, London EC4A 1AB.

  6. Some factual notes on the inquest process are set out below.
  • An inquest is a fact-finding inquiry into a violent or unnatural death, sudden death of unknown cause, or death which has occurred in prison to establish who has died, and how, when and where the death occurred..
  • The inquest is conducted by a coroner, and s/he hears evidence relating to the body and the circumstances of the death of a deceased person.
  • Section 16 of the Coroners Act 1988 states that a coroner shall adjourn an inquest until the conclusion of any relevant criminal proceedings
  • The inquest is a form of public inquiry to determine the truth. It is not a trial so there are no formal parties.
  • The inquest verdict cannot be framed in such a way as to appear to determine matters of criminal liability on the part of a named person or civil liability.
  • Section 8(3) of the 1988 Act sets out the circumstances in which an inquest must be held with a jury.

Press Office contacts for further information:

For information about the judge, Sir Robert Owen, please contact the Judicial Press Office on 020 7073 4852.

For information about coroner policy or the funding arrangements of this inquest please contact the Ministry of Justice Press Office on 020 3334 3536.

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