Press challenge prompts coroner to seek fresh inquest into death of 13-month-old Poppi Worthington

A senior coroner is to ask for a fresh inquest to take place into the death of a 13-month-old girl after a challenge from news organisations.

Last October a hearing in Cumbria took seven minutes to declare the death of Poppi Worthington was unexplained.

Ian Smith, coroner for the south and east district, did not refer to the events leading up to Poppi's death and said the cause could not be ascertained.

He said he was "satisfied" that the findings of a private family court hearing were sufficient.

But lawyers representing Times Newspapers Ltd, Guardian News & Media (offices pictured above) and Associated Newspapers wrote to the Senior Coroner for Cumbria, David Roberts, to argue that the inquest was insufficient and therefore unlawful.

In a written reply to law firm RPC, which is acting on behalf of the media group, Roberts, said: "My own view is that it would be desirable for a fresh inquest to take place, not least so that conclusions as to how, when and where Poppi Worthington came by her death can be recorded.

"Neither I nor Mr Smith has power to hold a further inquest without the permission of the High Court. However, it is open to me to seek a fiat (order) from the Attorney General to pursue an application under section 13 of the Coroners Act for an Order that a fresh inquest is to be held and I will now be doing so."

There have been two arrests relating to Poppi's death on December 12, 2012, including her father, Paul, 47.

Cumbria Constabulary has passed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to consider whether any criminal proceedings should be brought.

A CPS spokesman said last night: "We have received a file from Cumbria Constabulary on this case and we will be making a decision as soon as is practicably possible."

In a separate development, it can now be reported that Poppi's home town was Barrow-in-Furness.

High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson, who has dealt with family proceedings connected to the case, varied a reporting restriction order following legal submissions made on behalf of numerous media companies.

Last October – a week after the inquest – Mr Justice Jackson noted there had been "some concern" about the lack of information available to the public about the death.

Explaining why he had not yet made public his own "fact-finding judgment" on the case given in the family proceedings last March, the judge said: ''As a result of the judgment further police investigations into Poppi's death are now taking place.

''A decision by the Crown Prosecution Service may then follow.

''In the interests of justice it is essential that this process is allowed to take place without interference and that any criminal proceedings are not prejudiced.''

He concluded: ''The circumstances of Poppi's death will surely become known to the public in due course but, for the reasons that I have given, limited reporting restrictions remain necessary at this point in time and the fact-finding judgment of this court cannot yet be published.''

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