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September 12, 2017

Coroner takes action after Press Gazette flags failure to inform journalists of London terrorists’ inquest

By Freddy Mayhew

Southwark Coroners’ Court has “taken steps to improve press notifications” after Press Gazette raised concerns that no journalists were informed of the opening of the inquest into the deaths of three London Bridge terror attackers.

In a letter to Press Gazette, the court said it is moving to manage its own press communications following a review of its “media policy and the procedure to release press information”.

It said the review was carried out in preparation for the launch of its new website, which it said will publish listings of hearings.

Press Gazette reported in June that journalists were only told of the opening of an inquest into the deaths of the three London Bridge attackers 20 minutes after the hearing had started.

The Evening Standard’s court reporter, Tristan Kirk, told Press Gazette at the time: “A hearing like that going on without any press coverage is fairly scandalous.”

It later emerged that the coroner agreed to share an audio recording of the inquest opening with National news agency, part of SWNS, after the agency requested it. The court also agreed to share the recording with “accredited media” who contacted them for a copy.

Interim service manager Angela Gordon told Press Gazette in the letter, dated 7 September, that an investigation into the delayed notification to press had been carried out.

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She said: “Our investigation found that notification of the openings of the death of the London Bridge Incident inquests was sent to three press offices.

“However, an ambiguous email from this office created uncertainty as to who should contact the media. The deleted weekly notice was caused by a mixture of administrative and IT problems.”

She added: “We have been in the process of reviewing our media policy and the procedure to release press information is in preparation for the launch of our website. We are implementing lessons learnt from your complaint.

“We have decided that we now have capacity to manage press communications ourselves.

“I can assure you that all staff have been briefed and individuals will be assigned their designated roles locally to avoid replicating delays in future postings. Listings of hearings will be posted on our website and media will be informed of its launch.”

Police shot dead three men after they ran down pedestrians on London Bridge before jumping out and stabbing people in nearby Borough Market. Eight people died in the attack.

Picture: Google Maps

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