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Answers needed over coroner role, say MPs
Questions will have to be asked how former Bradford Coroner Peter Straker got the top job following his resignation before the results of a probe into his conduct are revealed, MPs have warned.
Yesterday, the Telegraph & Argus exclusively revealed Dr Straker had stepped down from the £100,000-a-year role from which he had been suspended on full-pay since February 6 last year.
The JCIO said the investigation stage has now been completed and a report is being compiled to go to the Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling and the Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas for a final decision.
Bradford West MP George Galloway (Respect) said: “It’s been a very inglorious episode which reflects badly on the coroner system.
“It’s cost us a pretty penny not just in money, but the quality of the coroner service we had previously enjoyed.
“When we get the inquiry’s end result, questions will arise and need to be answered, but these questions about how he was recruited are already in my mind and the minds of Bradford people.”
Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “This fellow has been sat at home for more than a year on full-pay at the expense of council taxpayers. The whole thing has been a shambles right from the start.”
Bradford East MP David Ward (Lib Dem) said: “There were very serious allegations which meant a full investigation was needed and needs to continue irrespective that he has resigned – innocent until proven guilty.
“But there needs to be an assessment of the process that led to the long delayed outcome we are still waiting for.
“It’s welcome at least that the cost of his salary is no longer being borne by local taxpayers in this time of austerity and cuts.”
Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe (Lab) said: “His resignation is a matter for him, but questions have to be asked about the length of the whole inquiry process – we still need to know the outcome of it.”
Keighley MP Kris Hopkins (Con) said: “I'm not going to say anything about this until the end of the inquiry because I want to know why he’s resigned.”
Complaints considered by the investigation team included an allegation Dr Straker arranged a cab driver to transport confidential medical and police records in an unsecured supermarket carrier bag between two coroner’s courts.
It was also claimed he instructed those deputising for him not to return verdicts of suicide or misadventure even if the facts proved such conclusions were appropriate. Other allegations against him included he had problems with his short-term memory, Dr Straker has declined to comment.