Alison Hewitt

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YEAR OF CALL: 1984

“She has the right balance in making sure that her clients’ interests are protected, but also facilitating the rights of families to the truth.” (Inquests and Inquiries) Chambers UK 2017

“Extremely experienced and very knowledgeable about coronial law. She handles difficult briefs with tenacity without being too aggressive.” (Inquests and Inquiries) Chambers UK 2017

“She knows what you are trying to achieve in an inquest, her questions are properly inquisitive and she gets to the nub of the issue without being aggressive.” (Inquests & Public Inquiries) Chambers UK 2016

“She is very professional and thorough, and handles her cases with real enthusiasm.” (Inquests & Public Inquiries) Chambers UK 2016

“Clients benefit from her experience as an assistant coroner.” (Inquests) The Legal 500 UK 2015

“She is excellent in her attention to detail, and also has a great relationship with clients.” (Inquests & Public Inquiries) Chambers UK 2015

“She’s probably one of the best barristers I’ve ever seen in a coroner’s court, as she’s excellent on her feet, in her strategy and in her line of questioning.” (Inquests & Public Inquiries) Chambers UK 2015

“She has a very effective and consensual approach. She is well known and well liked by coroners.” (Inquests) Chambers UK 2014

Summary:

Alison studied Law at University College, London and the ICSL and was called to the Bar by Middle Temple. In 1986 she became a tenant at Temple Garden Chambers from where she practised until joining 5 Essex Court in May 2012.

For over 10 years Alison has specialised in inquests and coronial law, together with associated judicial review. More recently she has developed a significant police law practice which covers civil claims, judicial review and misconduct. Alison also continues to maintain her long-term practice in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Additionally, she acts as a legal advisor to the General Dental Council.

Alison Hewitt has recently been appointed as HM Senior Coroner for the City of London and continues as an Assistant Coroner in two further coroner areas, Manchester (West) and Surrey.

Inquests and Coronial Law:

In 2002 Alison represented two Coroners at the Shipman Inquiry and her particular interest in coronial law grew from there. She regularly advises clients on all aspects of inquest law and procedure, including the meaning and effect of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

She has very extensive inquest experience and has represented a wide range of clients including Police Constabularies, the Home Office, the Ministry of Defence, private prisons, doctors and NHS Trusts, construction companies and other employers, care homes, child care agencies and families. Alison has also acted as “Counsel to the Inquest” in a large number of lengthy and complex cases.

Additionally, as an experienced Coroner, Alison has herself conducted a number of Article 2 compliant inquests, including cases in which the deceased person was in custody or detained under the Mental Health Act.

As a result of all her work, Alison’s particular areas of expertise are cases in which Article 2 may be engaged, deaths in custody, deaths involving the Police or following restraint, deaths resulting from domestic violence and deaths raising issues as to the clinical care provided for physical or mental illness.

Significant inquests include the following:

Poppi Worthington [ongoing] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Senior Coroner for Cumbria. The Deceased was a 13 month old baby suspected of having suffered abuse.

Susan Norman [ongoing] – Counsel to the Inquest for Assistant Coroner for Cornwall. The inquest is concerned with the death of a woman killed in a landslide on to her home.

Zane Gbangbola [2016] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Senior Coroner for Surrey. This inquest concerned the death of a 7 year old boy who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Kamal Nour [2016] – Representing the Chief Constable of Norfolk in a case in which the Deceased killed himself whilst “under siege” from the police.

Van Hagan [2016] – Representing Birmingham City Council’s Children’s Department. This was an inquest into the drug related death of a mother who was suspected to be the victim of coercive control.

Christopher Higgins [2015] – Representing the Chief Constable of Norfolk. The Deceased was a young man who killed himself in the presence of police officers and whilst detained under the Mental Health Act.

Andrew Pimlott [2015] – Representing the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police. The Deceased died from burn injuries after being tasered by a police officer.

Valan Pitts [2015] – Representing the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police. The Deceased suffered mental ill health and died after being reported to the police as missing.

Maher, Roberts and Dunsby [2015] – Representing the investigating police force at the “Brecon Beacons” inquest in relation to an issue of disclosure by the coroner to the Media.

Lloyd Butler [2014] – Representing the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police. This case concerned the death of a detainee who died in a cell in police custody.

Maria Stubbings [2014] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Senior Coroner for Essex for the preparatory stages of the investigation into the death of a woman who was killed by her partner, Marc Chivers, who had previously been imprisoned for murder in Germany.

Irene Sharples [2013] – Representing the Estates Manager and Surveyor who advised the Care Home in which the deceased was resident when she suffered injury as a result of construction works on the premises (in Manchester Coroner’s Court).

Maureen Leaver [2013] – Representing the Family of an elderly woman who died after being detained under the Mental Health Act and suffering hypothermia as a result of medication (in West Sussex Coroner’s Court).

Rachel Slack, Auden Slack and Andrew Cairns [2013] – Representing the Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police in a case in which a mother and her young son were killed by her former partner. The case raised issues about the care given by mental health services and the protection provided by the police (in Derby Coroner’s Court).

Jimmy Mubenga [2013] – Representing three Detention Custody Officers who had custody of the deceased when he died as a result of their restraint on an aircraft during his deportation (in West London Coroner’s Court).

Sergei Kerov [2012]Representing the Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police. The deceased was found to have killed himself after being reported to the Police as missing (in Derby Coroner’s Court).

Various Deaths [2012] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Warwickshire. This inquest related to the deaths of the pilots and passengers in two aircraft which collided in mid-air.

Nunes and Markland [2011] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Hampshire. The two deceased men were shot by the police whilst carrying out an armed robbery.

Ian Tomlinson [2011] – Counsel to the Inquest for Judge Peter Thornton QC (former Chief Coroner) sitting as ADC for the City of London. The deceased was a passer-by who died during the G20 protests in London after having been pushed by a police officer.

Naomi Bryant [2011] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Hampshire. This case concerned a woman who was murdered by a life-sentenced prisoner who had been released on licence.

Rhiya Malin [2010] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Essex. The deceased was a 2 year old girl who died on play equipment whilst in the care of a day nursery.

Joker Idris [2010] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Essex. In this case the deceased was a minor who was seeking asylum, was known to the social services and who killed himself whilst in custody.

Jonny Riley [2010] – Representing a private prison in a case involving a death in custody (in Norfolk Coroner’s Court).

Colette Lynch [2009] – Counsel to the Inquest for Sir Christopher Pitchers sitting as ADC for Warwickshire. This case concerned a young woman who was killed by her mentally unwell partner and it raised issues about the protection given to her by the police, social services and mental health services.

Steven Morris [2006] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Bridgend. The deceased was a vulnerable adult who died in a care home.

Various Deaths [2005] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Neath Port Talbot. This inquest related to the deaths of a number of employees resulting from a blast furnace explosion.

Robbie Powell [2004] – Counsel to the Inquest for HM Coroner for Pembrokeshire. The deceased was a young boy whose death raised numerous issues about the clinical care he had received.

Public / Administrative Law:

Alison regularly advises and appears in the Administrative Court in relation to claims for judicial review or applications under section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988, usually acting on behalf of Coroners or Police Constabularies.

Reported cases include the following:

R (SofS for Transport) v HM Senior Coroner for Norfolk [2016] EWHC 2279 (Admin).   In this case the Lord Chief Justice ruled that coroners’ power under schedule 5 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 did not enable them to order the Air Accidents Investigation Branch to disclose cockpit voice and flight data recordings. The Court also gave guidance concerning overlapping investigatory jurisdictions.

R (NE and NM) v Birmingham Magistrates’ Court and Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2015] EWHC 688 (Admin) in which the President of the QBD ruled upon the proper approach to be taken to an application by a serious sexual offender for release from the indefinite notification requirements in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

HM Senior Coroner for Cumbria v Smith [2015] EWHC 2465 (Admin). An application under s. 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 for a fresh inquest into the death of Poppi Worthington, a 13 month old baby suspected to have suffered abuse.

Flower v HM Senior Coroner for Devon [2015] EWHC 3666 (Admin). In this case the Court clarified the law by ruling that a decision by a coroner not to resume an inquest after criminal proceedings does not make him functus officio.

R (Krol) v The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 4552 (Admin) in which the court ruled that the police’s refusal to expunge a caution for the offence of actual bodily harm by a mother in punishing her young daughter did not breach her Article 8 rights. This case is subject to appeal to be heard by the Court of Appeal in 2017.

Brown v HM Coroner for Norfolk and the Chief Constable of Norfolk Constabulary [2014] EWHC 187 (Admin). An application for a fresh inquest under s.13 of the Coroners Act 1988. The judgment provides guidance from the Chief Coroner concerning pre-inquest review hearings.

Wilkinson v HM Coroner for Manchester (South) [2012] EWHC 2755 (Admin). This case concerned the use of the “unlawful killing” conclusion in cases where the death has resulted from careless driving and concluded that driving offences causing death could not justify that verdict.

Ahmed v HM Coroner for South and East Cumbria [2009] EWHC 1653 (Admin). Issues included disclosure of documents when a criminal investigation is ongoing, sufficiency of inquiry and bias.

HM Coroner for London (East) v Secretary for State for Justice and Sutovic [2009] EWHC 1974 (Admin). The Court considered issues relating to exhumation of a body arising under the Coroners Act 1988 and the Burial Act 1857.

Aineto v HM Coroner for Brighton and Hove [2003] EWHC 1896 (Admin). The issue related to the requirement to summon a jury in certain road traffic cases.

Hurst v HM Coroner for London (North) [2003] EWHC 1721 (Admin). A case which considered when it was necessary for a Coroner to resume an inquest in order to fulfill the investigative duty under Article 2 of the ECHR.

Hay v HM Coroner for Lincolnshire (1999) 163 JP 666, [2000] Inquest LR 1. A case which addressed a wide range of issues included advance disclosure by a coroner, admissibility of evidence, privilege against self-incrimination and verdict.

Personal Injury Law:

Alison acts for both claimants and defendants and has extensive experience of injuries sustained at work or in road traffic incidents. She has conducted many cases which are clinically complex, are of high value or involve serious injury. Alison is also regularly instructed in relation to Article 2 / dependency claims arising after inquest proceedings.

Employment Law:

Throughout her career Alison has undertaken employment law work, principally involving unfair dismissal and all forms of discrimination. She has acted for Government Departments, the Armed Services, NHS Trusts and private employers. She has defended a number of lengthy and complex discrimination claims and she co-wrote a book of guidance on the Age Discrimination Regulations when they were introduced.

Education:

Inns of Court School of Law, Bar Vocational Course 1983 – 1984

University College, London, LLB 1980 – 1983

Appointments:

HM Senior Coroner for the City of London

Assistant Coroner for Manchester (West)

Assistant Coroner for Surrey