Wednesday 1 February 2012

Amy Winehouse coroner 'not qualified'


The family of singer Amy Winehouse have said they are "taking advice" following news that the coroner who oversaw her inquest has resigned. Camden Council has confirmed that Suzanne Greenaway had stood down because she had not been a lawyer in the UK for the required five years. The council said she had been appointed "in error" by her husband Andrew Reid, the coroner for inner north London. Ms Greenaway ruled that Winehouse, 27, died from accidental alcohol poisoning. She returned a verdict of misadventure. The Office for Judicial Complaints has begun an inquiry into Dr Reid's conduct. Letter of apology In a statement, Winehouse's relatives said: "The Winehouse family is taking advice on the implications of this and will decide if any further discussion with the authorities is needed." Ms Greenaway qualified in Australia in 1999 in September and was a member of the Supreme Court there but she had not worked as a lawyer for the required time in the UK, a Camden Council spokesman said. The spokesman added that the Winehouse inquest verdict remained legal and would only be judged illegal if it was challenged and subsequently overturned by the High Court. Amy Winehouse's father leaves St Pancras Coroners Court Dr Reid said he was writing to all of the families affected to apologise. He said: "While I am confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly, I apologise if this matter causes distress to the families and friends of the deceased." He has offered to hold the inquests over again if the families of the deceased request it. During her time as deputy assistant coroner, Ms Greenaway conducted 12 inquests in Camden, but mainly worked from Poplar Coroner's Court. Coroners are appointed by the Ministry of Justice who then interview and appoint their own staff, including in the case of Dr Reid, his assistant deputy coroner. Under the Coroners Act, he must then notify the local authority although it has no power of scrutiny over appointments, a Camden Council spokesman said. The inquest into Winehouse's death heard she was more than five times the drink-drive limit when she died on 23 July. Ms Greenway had said the "unintended consequence" of Winehouse drinking so much alcohol was her "sudden and unexpected death". Three empty vodka bottles, two large and one small, were found at her flat, St Pancras Coroner's Court heard.