Coroner refutes family's claims

PUBLISHED: 17:04 22 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 March 2010

AN Ipswich coroner has denied claims that his office failed to inform an grieving family that a post mortem was being carried out on their son and that their wishes were not respected.

AN Ipswich coroner has denied claims that his office failed to inform an grieving family that a post mortem was being carried out on their son and that their wishes were not respected.

Dr Peter Dean said everything had been done to respect the wishes of the Smith's and that every effort had been made to answer their questions after the death of their son Andrew in March.

His father, Ivan Smith, disagrees and says he was not even told a post mortem would be carried out on his son and he is now considering legal action against the authorities he feels let him and his family down in their time of need.

Andrew Smith was involved in a car accident on March 30. Andrew died in Addenbrooke's Hospital three days later. His family relied on the help and expertise of those trained to deal with them in such a sensitive situation but still now the family feel the support they should have received from the police and the coroners office was lacking.

Mr Smith, of Sandringham Close, Ipswich, said: "I know it may seem like a grieving family that is angry with the world but this goes much further than that. We were not treated with the respect we should have been and the communication between us and the authorities was terrible."

Mr Smith said he and his family were not told about the post mortem that was carried out on Andrew, or that his body was moved from Cambridge to Ipswich. The post mortem took place on April 5 and the family said they were not informed it had been carried out until June 13.

In a letter from Dr Peter Dean, Ipswich coroner sent to the Smith's he stated talks the coroner's office does their utmost to deal with families in a sensitive and respectful way. With reference to the post mortem being carried out with out their knowledge Dr Dean states that Cambridge told the Ipswich office that they had informed the family of the proceedings.

However this has been denied by Cambridge in a letter to the family, they said they did not tell the family and that it would have been up to Ipswich to do this.

The family is also angry at their treatment by the police. They say numerous telephone calls were made and not returned, only to be told they were 'lost'. They also waited in for a liaison officer to come round at 4pm and he did not turn up until nearly 10pm that night.

Mr Smith also had to tell them three times that the time of death on the death certificate was wrong.

Dr Dean said this was simply a misprint and that it was the evidence given on oath at the inquest that is important.

"It was very important to us that this was correct because if not it would seem the transplant of Andrew's organs took place before his death," Mr Smith added.

During the inquest personal details about the transplant of Andrew's organs was released without telling the parents.

"This was such a personal decision and something the transplant co-ordinator at Addenbrooke's told us would be our decision but then details were released so all his friends heard," said Mr Smith.

"I have sent letter after letter and phoned numerous times but they have never given me satisfactory answers or an apology. I feel like a small fish in a huge pond and trying to fight against these powerful authorities seems pointless. I can't seem to make any head way and all I really want is an apology and for them to admit they may have done things wrong."

The police are currently investigating the Smith's complaints. Simon Stevens, Suffolk Police spokesman said: "We carried out a full enquiry and followed all our procedures. We have received a letter from the family and we will be responding in due course."

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