Khan, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Health: CA 10 Oct 2003

The claimant’s child had died as a result of negligence in hospital. The parents had been told the result of police investigation and decision not to prosecute, and the hospital’s own investigation, but had not been sufficiently involved. There remained unresolved suspicions of negligence having been covered up. They had been refused legal aid to be represented at the inquest.
Held: ‘Where agents of a state bear potential responsibility for the loss of a human life, the state should provide a procedural mechanism whereby the cause of death may be investigated, and responsibility for the death ascertained, through an investigation held in public which must be both judicial and effective; The Convention is not prescriptive about the manner in which this investigation should take place, but the more serious the events that call for inquiry, the more intensive should be the process of public scrutiny. In such cases the families of the deceased should be involved in the procedure to the extent that is necessary to safeguard their interests.’
The inquest might not be sufficiently wide ranging to satisfy the right, and the respondent should take an opportunity to reconsider his decision not to provide assistance: ‘The procedural obligation introduced by article 2 has three interlocking aims: to minimise the risk of future like deaths; to give the beginnings of justice to the bereaved; and to assuage the anxieties of the public.’
‘the function of an inquest is inquisitorial, and in the overwhelming majority of cases the coroner can conduct an effective judicial investigation himself without there being any need for the family of the deceased to be represented’


Brooke VP, Waller, Clarke LJJ


[2004] 1 WLR 971, [2003] EWCA Civ 1129, Times 15-Oct-2003, Gazette 20-Nov-2003, [2003] Inquest LR 70, [2003] 3 FCR 341, (2004) 76 BMLR 118, [2003] ACD 89, (2004) 7 CCL Rep 361, [2003] 4 All ER 1239, [2004] Lloyd’s Rep Med 159




European Convention on Human Rights 2


England and Wales


CitedPowell v United Kingdom ECHR 4-May-2000
A ten-year old boy had died from Addison’s disease. No inquest took place, because the coroner decided that the boy had died of natural causes. The parents, who were also affected by the events, had accepted compensation from the local health . .
CitedRegina (Amin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; Regina (Middleton) v Coroner for West Somersetshire CA 27-Mar-2002
A prisoner had been killed in his cell by a cell-mate known to be unstable and racist. His family sought to be involved in the inquiry into the death within the prison system. A second prisoner hanged himself in his cell. His family alleged that he . .
CitedOsman v The United Kingdom ECHR 28-Oct-1998
Police’s Complete Immunity was Too Wide
(Grand Chamber) A male teacher developed an obsession with a male pupil. He changed his name by deed poll to the pupil’s surname. He was required to teach at another school. The pupil’s family’s property was subjected to numerous acts of vandalism, . .
CitedSieminska v Poland ECHR 29-Mar-2001
The applicant’s husband died in hospital, but she later complained that the ambulance had not been equipped with the necessary resuscitation devices. Under Polish law she had a right to appeal against decisions of the prosecuting authorities not to . .
CitedCalvelli and Ciglio v Italy ECHR 17-Jan-2002
The applicants’ baby had died shortly after birth in 1987. They complained about the medical care. The complaint was not investigated speedily by the authority, resulting in a criminal complaint becoming time barred after a conviction in 1994 was . .
CitedEdwards v The United Kingdom ECHR 14-Mar-2002
The deceased, a young man of mixed race, had been placed in a cell with another prisoner who was known to be violent, racist, and mentally unstable. The staff knew that the panic button was defective. The deceased was murdered by his cell-mate. His . .
CitedJordan v United Kingdom; McKerr v United Kingdom; similar ECHR 4-May-2001
Proper Investigation of Deaths with Army or Police
Claims were made as regards deaths of alleged terrorists in clashes with the UK armed forces and police. In some cases the investigations necessary to justify the taking of life had been inadequate. Statements made to the inquiry as to the . .
CitedOneryildiz v Turkey ECHR 30-Nov-2004
(Grand Chamber) The applicant had lived with his family in a slum bordering on a municipal household refuse tip. A methane explosion at the tip resulted in a landslide which engulfed the applicant’s house killing his close relatives.
Held: The . .
CitedMastromatteo v Italy ECHR 24-Oct-2002
The deceased had been a bystander killed by a group of criminals, some of whom were on leave of absence from prison and one of whom had absconded from prison. A complaint was made by the applicant that there had been a breach of the positive duty to . .
CitedHurst v Coroner Northern District of London Admn 4-Jul-2003
The deceased was killed by Mr Reid, a neighbour, who was convicted of his manslaughter.
Held: The court quashed the coroner’s refusal to accede to the application of the deceased’s father to resume an adjourned inquest into the death, at which . .
CitedSacker v HM Coroner for the County of West Yorkshire CA 27-Feb-2003
The court expressed scepticism about the suitability of a coroner’s inquest, in its present form, as a vehicle for carrying out a state’s obligations under Article 2. Those considerations may accentuate the need for an overdue improvement in the . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Health, Ex Parte Wagstaff etc QBD 31-Aug-2000
The Secretary of State announced a public enquiry into the Shipman case. He did not say whether it would be a public enquiry. The bereaved families and media wanted it to be public, and contended that it had been invalidly constituted, that an . .
CitedCredit Suisse and Another v Waltham Forest London Borough Council CA 20-May-1996
Parliament had made detailed provision in a number of Acts for the discharge of the housing duties by local authorities. These detailed provisions did not contain a power to give a guarantee in connection with a bank loan to a company which the . .
Appeal fromKhan, Regina (on the Application Of) v Secretary of State for Health Admn 17-Jun-2003
. .

Cited by:

CitedIn re McKerr (Northern Ireland) HL 11-Mar-2004
The deceased had been shot by soldiers of the British Army whilst in a car in Northern Ireland. The car was alleged to have ‘run’ a checkpoint. The claimants said the investigation, now 20 years ago, had been inadequate. The claim was brought under . .
CitedPlymouth City Council v HM Coroner for the County of Devon and Another Admn 27-May-2005
The local authority in whose care the deceased child had been held challenged a decision by the coroner not to limit his inquiry to the last few days of the child’s life. The coroner had decided that he had an obligation to conduct a wider enquiry . .
CitedLetts, Regina (on The Application of) v The Lord Chancellor and Another Admn 20-Feb-2015
Application for judicial review concerning the criteria applied by the Legal Aid Agency to determine whether relatives of a deceased should be granted legal aid for representation at an inquest into a death which has arisen in circumstances which . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Legal Aid, Coroners

Updated: 08 June 2022; Ref: scu.186692