27 APRIL 1956, Page 7

WHATEVER USEFUL function coroner's courts perform, it is high time

that some more reasonable and unified system of selecting, appointing, and paying the coroners themselves was arrived at. At the moment it is totally haphazard, with the result that a great many people unable to resist the temptations of publicity and self-glorification find their way into the office. Nothing much can be said for a system which permits people bubbling over with .a sense of their own importance to utter a string of unnecessarily damaging sentiments. (Coroners, incidentally, may be liable to an action for defamation if they abuse their judicial office by using slanderous words maliciously—vide Thomas v. Churton, 1862: a question which has remained rather too open rather too long.) These reflections are prompted by the sententious criticisms of the Dean of Windsor and the Bishop of Exeter made by the Wiltshire coroner when recording a verdict of suicide on the vicar of Amesbury, criticisms wholly uncalled for but none the less bitterly wound- ing in their general effect.

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