Board complains about conduct of coroner Mary Hassell after rabbi’s death

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Board complains about conduct of coroner Mary Hassell after rabbi’s death

Letter from Board says case involving death of Rabbi Bobby Hill was 'deeply disappointing', with the family’s distress 'exacerbated' by the Inner North London Coroner's conduct

Mary Hassell

Credit: Faith Matters
Mary Hassell Credit: Faith Matters

The delay to burial of a rabbi has provoked a fresh complaint from the Board of Deputies about the conduct of Inner North London Coroner Mary Hassell, who is handling the case.

Rabbi Bobby Hill’s family has reportedly hired lawyers to press for the release of his body for prompt burial after he passed away on Monday, while Board president Marie van der Zyl penned a letter on Thursday to Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft QC.

It will bring back bad memories for both Lucraft and the Jewish community, after Adath Yisroel Burial Society brought a court case in 2018 which successfully challenged Hassell’s “cab-rank rule” for releasing bodies, despite some families placing the upmost importance on speedy burial for religious reasons.

The Board’s letter this week noted the “poor nature of Ms Hassell’s service to the Jewish community” in the past while saying Hill’s case was “deeply disappointing” with the family’s distress “exacerbated by Ms Hassell’s conduct”.

Van der Zyl alleges that Hassell was “discourteous” in not meeting Hill’s family, challenges Hassell’s alleged claim that her office is under-staffed, and criticises Hassell for giving no “fixed indication” as to when Hill’s body may be released.

The Board’s letter further alleges that Hill’s family waited in Hassell’s office “the whole day” and “offered assistance to speed up the process”.

Van der Zyl tells Lucraft that “there has since been an exchange of letters, where Ms Hassell has indicated that Mr Hill’s report of death will be given a priority position, but given no fixed indication of when the case may be dealt with”.

The Board letter further states that Hassell “claimed that correspondence from lawyers for the Hill family, their local MP and other supporters was also preventing her attending to the case itself, which has led us to write directly to you”.

Both Hassell and Lucraft have been contacted for comment.

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