Board says coroner Mary Hassell ‘must go’ after ‘deeply disappointing’ meeting

Board says coroner Mary Hassell ‘must go’ after ‘deeply disappointing’ meeting

Community leader calls for the public official to be fired over her 'repeated failure' to help grieving families of Jewish and Muslim communities

An old Jewish headstone in a cemetery
An old Jewish headstone in a cemetery

The Board of Deputies has called for a senior London coroner to be sacked after a meeting on Friday which left Jewish representatives fuming.

Mary Hassell, the senior coroner for Inner North London covering Hackney, Camden, Islington and Tottenham, has been the subject of concern from Orthodox leaders for years, but the Board’s intervention dramatically ramps up the pressure.

Hassell, from Wales, has drawn the ire of the religious Jewish community for saying she would not prioritise any religious group, leading to charges of “insensitivity”.

The Board’s vice president Marie Van Der Zyl, who attended what she described as “a deeply disappointing meeting” with Hassell on Friday, said the coroner “must go,” because of her “repeated failure to support bereaved Jewish and Muslim families”.

In an angry statement following the meeting alongside the Stamford Hill-based Adath Yisroel Burial Society, the Board said Hassell “showed little interest in addressing the Jewish community’s concerns in her work”.

The meeting had been called “to see whether steps could be taken to re-instil the Jewish community with confidence in her work,” said Van Der Zyl, because “the early release of bodies… is a fulfilment of the basic human rights of family life and religious practice”.

However, she said: “Not only is Ms Hassell failing to respect those rights, but she shows no inclination to do so, she has lost the confidence of the Jewish community, and appears to have no interest in winning it back.”

The Board said it would be writing to the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, David Gauke, and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, to request her removal from post.

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