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Harriet Wakeman successfully acts for the family of Emma Fraser in a judicial review challenge to a Coroner’s conclusion that her death was “drug-related”

14th January 2022

Harriet Wakeman, led by Rory Brown, acted pro bono for the family of Emma Fraser in a judicial review challenging the conclusion of her inquest.

The inquest into Emma’s death found that she had died of traumatic brain injuries when she launched herself from a 2nd floor window at her home, having consumed cannabis a few hours earlier and reacted very badly. The Coroner concluded that when she launched herself from the window of her flat, she had been in a state of ‘drug-fuelled anxiety, paranoia and delusion’ and she believed she was fleeing a ‘perceived peril’. The Coroner entered a short form conclusion in her record of inquest as ‘Drug related death’.

The judicial review challenged the Coroner’s decision on the sole ground that the conclusion that Emma’s death was drug related was irrational since there was no evidential basis for concluding that the cannabis Emma had smoked had caused her to have a psychotic episode.

In light of the Claimant’s grounds for judicial review, the Coroner agreed to an order by the High Court of Justice, QBD, Administrative Court quashing his previous findings and conclusions to remove all references to drug consumption from Boxes 3 and 4 of the Record of Inquest. Most significantly for Emma’s family, the order of the court made on 17 December 2021 by the Honourable Mr Justice Calver substituted the Coroner’s conclusion that Emma’s death was drug related for a conclusion her death was accidental and amended the language of the conclusions appropriately.

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Harriet Wakeman

Harriet Wakeman
Year of Call: 2017