Coroner stands down

New West Yorkshire Coroner Peter Straker.
New West Yorkshire Coroner Peter Straker.

Bradford coroner Peter Straker has resigned - before a report into his conduct had been submitted.

Dr Straker, whose remit covers north Kirklees, was suspended on full pay in February 2013 while an investigation into his conduct in his role as coroner took place.

Suzan Hemingway, Bradford Metropolitan District Council’s city solicitor, said: “The council has been informed that Peter Straker, coroner for West Yorkshire (western area) has resigned.

“The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has been conducting an investigation into the coroner’s conduct and it was the decision of the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor to suspend him on full pay during this investigation.

“Bradford Council, along with Calderdale Council and Kirklees Council, funds the district coroner’s service but the investigation, its processes and outcomes are not in the council’s jurisdiction.”

The Indian Muslim Welfare Association (IMWS) helped organise a petition for an investigation into Dr Straker’s conduct in 2012, as they felt he had delayed Muslim ceremonies by ordering too many post-mortem examinations.

The petition had gained 5,000 signatures by the time the investigation began last year.

Muhammed Mulla, chair of the IMWS, said: “We have been involved with the petition for the past year, as there were many concerns that we had. We are pleased at (his) decision.

“The understanding we had with the previous coroner was that bodies would be buried as soon as possible. Obviously, if there are exceptional circumstances, we understand, but we felt there were too many.

“We would like to work with the new coroner and I would hope we can return to the sort of relationship we had with the previous coroner.”

Although it has not yet disclosed any details of its findings, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) this week said its report was almost complete.

A spokeswoman for the JCIO said: “Dr Straker is the subject of an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office, and this will continue despite his resignation.

“The investigation has now concluded and a report will shortly be submitted to the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice for their consideration.”