The Ministry of Justice has said it cannot help reimburse Bradford taxpayers for delays into investigating the city’s suspended coroner.
Bradford East MP David Ward had asked for money back to make up for the extra thousands of pounds Bradford taxpayers have paid because of the lengthy top-level inquiry into Peter Straker. Mr Ward had asked for a response from the Ministry of Justice after it was revealed Dr Straker, who was suspended in February last year pending the outcome of an investigation into complaints about his conduct, was still on full pay.
His wage, which amounts to just under £100,000, a year is split between the three local authorites, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees, which are covered by his jurisdiction.
Usually such investigations are thought to take up to 90 days but the Ministry of Justice has since stated that the “seriousness and complexity” of the case has meant that the investigation has been significantly delayed.
Mr Ward (Lib Dem) said: “The Ministry of Justice took the decision to suspend Dr Straker and it is responsible for the investigations delay so it should pay for it.
“It is unacceptable that my constituents are having to pay for the Ministry of Justice’s mistakes to the tune of thousands of pounds.
“We are being made to pay for someone else’s mistakes and it is wrong for the Ministry for Justice to refuse to reimburse my constituents.”
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara wrote back to Mr Ward saying: “On your suggestion that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) might provide funding to Dr Straker's local authorities while the investigation into Dr Straker's conduct is ongoing, I am afraid that I cannot help you. “Coroners are a local service, appointed and funded by individual local authorities, while the Ministry of Justice’s responsibility extends only to coroner law and policy.
“I am sympathetic to the position in which the three Councils find themselves, but I regret that the MoJ is not in a position to provide any financial assistance.”