The family of Amber peat has objected to the new coroner presiding at her inquest after it was revealed she works for a firm of solicitors representing another party in the case.
A pre-inquest review was opened into the death of the tragic teen on Monday (November 19) but was halted after it became clear her family wanted another coroner, citing a conflict of interest.
An inquest into the death of the Mansfield teenager who was found hanged in bushes near her home was opened and adjourned, pending a full investigation by police and other agencies’ in June 2015.
The inquest is due to resume in January 2019.
Laurinda Bower the assistant coroner for Nottingham has taken over the inquest from Notinghamshire Coroner Mairin Casey.
At the review at Nottingham Philip Turton representing Amber’s mother and grandmother said the connection between Laurinder Bower and Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust had been a cause of concern for the family.
The coroner was currently working as an in-house barrister for Nottingham law firm Browne Jacobson who had on occasion represented the Trust.
Mr Turton said: “The family feel that there may be some influence on your decision
“Your employment is a relevant concern for my clients.
Ms Bower said there were “exceptionally good personal circumstances which had led to her taking over the inquest, adding the decision had nothing to do with members of the family as individuals or as a collective.
Mairin Casey would not be available.
Ms Bower said she had been on leave and had come back in recent weeks and had had nothing to do with the case.
She said the case was in an electronic file which was protected and she did not have access to it. She is due to leave Browne Jacobson in December and would no longer be an employee when the inquest was due to resume in January.
At the inquest there were representatives from Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Nottinghamhsire County Council Children’s services and safeguarding Nottinghamshire Healthcare and Foundation Trust and Mansfield and Ashfield CCG.
The coroner said: “I absolutely take the point of the counsel representing the family and Miss Peat’s view in all of this which is that I should recuse myself .
“I am not able to make any determination today and we cannot proceed effectively with a pre-inquest review but I will direct that a skeleton argument on behalf of the family is served by Friday to the court and all those interested persons .
If I and then by November 28th a skeleton argument on behalf of the other parties or a short letter setting out if you are neutral
She added: “If I am not here to hear this inquest we will have to check the availability of coroner who could hear it.”