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Keith Morton KC, leading Paul Reynolds, instructed by the Government Legal Department has successfully represented the Marine Accident Investigation Branch in a judicial review challenge brought by the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service against a Coroner’s ruling.
On 12 July 2023 Eyre J handed down judgment in The King (on the application of Mid and West Wales Fire & Rescue Service) v HM Acting Senior Coroner for Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire and Marine Accident and Investigation Branch  EWHC 1669 (Admin)
The judicial review arose out of an inquest into the death of a fire fighter who died in a marine training exercise. The accident was investigated by the MAIB (one of the State’s three Accident Investigation Branches). The MAIB found that there were shortcomings in the planning and operation of the training exercise both locally and systemically. In Secretary of State for Transport v Senior Coroner for Norfolk  EWHC 2279 (Admin) (in which Keith appeared for the Secretary of State) the Divisional Court held that a coroner should accept the findings of an AIB investigation unless they are arguably incomplete, flawed or deficient. The Fire Service contended before the Coroner that the MAIB’s investigation was arguably incomplete, flawed or deficient. The Coroner did not agree. The Fire Service challenged that decision in this judicial review. Eyre J rejected all of the Fire Service’s grounds. The decision is important because it establishes expressly that the relevant part of the decision in Norfolk formed part of the ratio of that decision and secondly because it further illustrates the practical application of Norfolk and the high bar that must be crossed to establish an AIB investigation is arguably incomplete, flawed or deficient.