City of Westminster : New coroner appointed for inner west London

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New coroner appointed for inner west London

March 15, 2011

A new coroner has been appointed to serve inner-west London, which includes Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Wandsworth and Merton.

Dr Fiona Wilcox will take up the post on April 1, when she replaces the current coroner Dr Paul Knapman, who is retiring after 31 years.

Dr Wilcox is dual qualified being both a doctor and a barrister and has spent all her professional career working in central London.

She has been an inner-city General Practitioner for 21 years and has practiced as a barrister in criminal law, professional negligence and personal injury.

She has represented families at inquests, including military inquests in conjunction with the Royal British Legion. She has broad experience as a Coroner, having previously held four Assistant Deputy Coroner positions in East London, Southwark, North London and Kent.

Dr Wilcox said: "I am deeply honoured to be appointed to this prestigious jurisdiction and look forward to serving its diverse community. I wish to pay tribute to Dr Knapman for the excellent service and dedication to his position that he has shown over many years. I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take the coronial service forward in these challenging times."

Dr Knapman served for 36 years in total, including five years as deputy coroner, and presided over a number of high profile inquests including the Libyan embassy siege in 1984 and the Clapham rail disaster in 1987.

He said: "It has been my privilege to hold this office for so long and to serve this very disparate community - from those in embassies to the homeless hostels. But with it does come a large burden of responsibility I am pleased to hand on to a younger and very capable person."

The Coroner is an independent judicial officer who investigates violent or unnatural deaths, deaths of unknown cause or those occurring whilst a person is in custody or during the execution of an arrest by the police.

The Coroner's court is a court of enquiry not adversary and tries to identify factors that can be altered to prevent future deaths.

There are records relating to the Westminster Coroner dating back to the 1200's.

The court is sited on Horseferry Road with an allied mortuary and specialist forensic facilities. The Coroner is supported by a dedicated team of investigative officers and deals with more than 4,000 reported deaths per year.