UPDATE 28/6/17: Southwark Coroners’ Court agreed to share an audio recording of the opening of the inquest into the three London Bridge terrorists with the National News agency after they requested it. The court is understood to have sent an email today asking journalists to contact them if they want a copy of the recording.
The opening of an inquest into the deaths of the three London Bridge terror attackers went unreported this morning because press were only told of the hearing about 20 minutes after it had started.
Southwark Coroners’ Court, which covers inner London, sent out an email alerting press to the week’s planned court hearings at 9.48am today. It included details about the terrorists’ inquest, which had begun at 9.30am.
Not a single member of the press – including the Press Association, court news agency Central News and the London Evening Standard – is believed to have attended the hearing as a result of the delayed notification.
The Standard’s court reporter, Tristan Kirk, said on Twitter: “This is three men who committed a terrible terrorist atrocity on British soil, and were shot dead by police. Can’t see much interest in that.”
He told Press Gazette: “Hearings like that will be over in ten minutes. It looks like nobody has gone down to cover it. A hearing like that going on without any press coverage is fairly scandalous.
He added he was “annoyed” at having missed the hearing and would have attended if he had known prior to the start, adding: “It’s a no-brainer that there would have been significant press interest [in the inquest].
“Although the [court’s] list system isn’t quite what it should be, this is one [inquest] that should have been flagged up as clearly the press should have been told about it. Even an email sent out the day before would have done the job.
“To tell everyone after it’s happened – there’s no rowing back on that.”
Kirk said inquests into the victims of the 3 June London Bridge terror attack, in which seven people were killed and dozens injured, had been widely covered in the press earlier this month after police informed journalists of their opening.
The reporter said of today’s unreported inquest into the terror trio: “From what we know these guys were shot to death by the police. For anybody shot dead by the police there would be an interest in opening up the inquest and what the police have to say.
“These openings tell you a little bit about how the death happened and what they [police] know now. It’s an opportunity on the record to know where the investigation is at.”
Kirk said missing the opening of the inquest, which he believes has now been adjourned until after the police investigation into the incident, meant it would be “many months until we actually get a proper hearing on these guys.”
Kirk said an inquest is an “open hearing” and that it can only be closed to the press and public with “good reason”. He added: “That isn’t what’s happened here – they haven’t told anyone about it – but the effect is the same.”
He said: “The court system is fairly understaffed across the board especially in London. I’m not suggesting there’s anything underhand about what’s gone on – that they have deliberately put it out late to keep out the press.
“What seems to me to have happened is they haven’t gotten around to [sending] it and that’s a failure of the system itself. Surely you would have known that the press and public might be interested.”
He added that Southwark Coroners’ Court, which is run by Dr Andrew Harris, had “generated a little bit of a reputation for not being as amiable to the press as perhaps a coroner’s court should be”.
PA editor-in-chief Pete Clifton said: “Getting notice of such an important hearing 20 minutes after it was scheduled was deeply unhelpful.
“As the national news agency, PA is committed to comprehensive reporting of the significant events of the day.
“But we sometimes need the help of court officials, who should know that accurate reporting of proceedings is very much in the public interest.”
Press Gazette understands the coroner was late in signing off the list of upcoming hearings, which was behind the tardy email to press. We have also asked the coroner to comment.
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