A timeline of victory: How the community and its allies united to fight the cab rank policy

A timeline of victory: How the community and its allies united to fight the cab rank policy

Following the landmark ruling that Senior Coroner Mary Hassell's burial policy is unlawful - we look back at how this decision was brought about

Mary Hassell

Credit: Faith Matters
Mary Hassell Credit: Faith Matters

May 2013 – Mary Hassell is appointed Senior Coroner for Inner North London. Shortly after she suspends the out-of-hours service owing to under-resourcing

Sept 2014 – Following the death of 86-year old Sarlotta Rotsztein at London’s Royal Free, the family gain an injunction stopping Hassell’s decision to proceed with an invasive autopsy without first attempting less invasive means to establish the cause of death. Days later a CT scan reveals the cause of death and she is buried

July 2015 – A judicial review brought by the family sees Hassell’s decision deemed unlawful under Section 6 of the Human Rights Act. She is ordered to pay legal costs. Lawyer Trevor Asserson says Hassell “appears to have gone out of her way to be insensitive to the community’s needs”

Oct 2017 – Relations break down after a 43-year old Jewish man dies and Hassell’s team retain the body for examination. In response to challenges, she writes to lawyers acting for Adath Yisroel Burial Society, saying “no death will be prioritised in any way over any other because of the religion of the deceased or family”. She also says her staff are being “bullied” by lawyers, rabbis and other community representatives, who repeatedly call and visit her offices. Lawyers in turn say Hassell shows “total disregard for people of faith” and file official complaints

Jan 2018 – Adath Yisrael Burial Society (AYBS) asks for a judicial review, saying delays in releasing bodies were “unnecessary” and “offensive,” and calls for Hassell to be removed. Concerns are raised about Hassell’s policy by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Mayor of London, the London Assembly, local MPs and both Jewish and Muslim community leaders, many of whom call for Hassell to be sacked. Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis wades in, but stops short of demanding her dismissal

Feb 2018 – the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirms that all complaints made about Hassell’s decisions “have been rejected by this office”

March 2018 – Judicial review hearing at the High Court takes places, days after the Chief Coroner comes out against Hassell’s policy. She later reveals that he had first said it “excellent” and proposed rolling it out across the country

April 2018 – High Court judges publish their decision ruling her policy “unlawful” after lawyers said it was a breach of the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act. London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomes the verdict and Jewish representatives say Hassell should consider her position

read more: