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Permission granted: the first step towards a fresh inquest is achieved

Administrative Court grant Erica Duggan permission to pursue judicial review

Jeremiah Duggan

5 November 2008

In May 2008, Leigh Day & Co issued a judicial review of the Attorney General’s refusal to grant her permission to Erica Duggan to ask the Court for a fresh inquest into her son’s death . In an oral permission hearing today, the Administrative Court granted Erica permission to pursue her judicial review, and accepted that she has an arguable case.

Erica now moves to the second step towards achieving a fresh inquest into her son’s death, a full hearing of her judicial review claim.

The Judicial Review

The first issue to be decided in the judicial review is whether the Attorney General’s refusal is amenable to review by the Court. Although historically similar cases have concluded that the Attorney General is not amenable to judicial review, recent developments and the trend towards greater accountability and transparency lead Leigh Day & Co to believe that it is time for the law to be examined. In deciding whether or not to allow an individual a fresh inquest, the Attorney General acts not merely as a guardian of the public interest, but also as guardian of the deceased’s family’s right to a full investigation into their loved one’s death. We believe, that decisions concerning this fundamental right, enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, should clearly be subject to review.

The second issue to be examined is whether the Attorney General’s refusal was irrational. The reasons for the Attorney General’s decision were only given after the claim was issued, and appear to solely focus on discrediting the experts who concluded that the findings of the original inquest were at least questionable. The experts consulted include former high-ranking Metropolitan Police Officers, highly experienced doctors and experienced forensic photographic experts. We consider it strongly arguable that the dismissal of the conclusions of 6 experts is wholly irrational, especially as all the conclusions suggest that should a fresh inquest take place, a different verdict may be recorded.

If successful in the judicial review, Erica then will have to argue her case in front of the High Court. Only if successful after that third stage, will she achieve her goal.

At Court today, after permission was granted, Erica’s legal representatives invited the Attorney General to grant her permission immediately in the interests of saving public money. If this invitation is accepted, Erica will be able to move straight to the final step.

For more details please contact Frances Swaine or Merry Varney on 0207 650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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