News In Focus
Foreign services deaths inquiries to take place in Scotland
17 September 2012
Inquiries into the deaths abroad of Scottish servives personnel will be able to be held in Scotland from next week.
Until now the Lord Advocate, who is responsible for the investigation of deaths in Scotland, has had no power to hold an inquiry into a death occurring outside Scottish territory, but under an amendment to the Coroners and Juries Act 2009, in force from 24 September, the Chief Coroner of England & Wales will be able to recommend that an investigation be transferred to Scotland.
That would prevent situations arising such as after the RAF Nimrod crash in Afghanistan, when although most of the 14 servicemen who died were from Scotland, their relatives had to travel to an inquest held in the south of England where the bodies were returned. Calls for a change in the law followed, and this has now been implemented.
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore said: "Our service personnel carry out an essential and brave job in the defence of our nation and we have a duty to support them and their families in every way possible.
"It is hugely tragic every time a member of our armed forces is killed abroad and this change to the law will help support bereaved families through an incredibly difficult process."
For the Scottish Government, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill commented: "I warmly welcome this development and I know that will be a view shared by the families of Scottish servicemen."