Mayor calls on Teesside Coroner to stand down

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

THE Teesside Coroner is being called on to resign with immediate effect amid concerns about the length of time it is taking him to conclude inquests.

Michael Sheffield is accused of bringing the service into disrepute by Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon who has held two private meetings with the coroner to express his fear that he is not the man to lead the service forward.

The Mayor publicly called for Mr Sheffield’s resignation at a meeting on Middlesbrough Council’s executive this afternoon (Tuesday, December 4).

The council’s scrutiny committee has carried a detailed report of the coroner’s service and highlighted several areas where they believe improvements could be made to modernise it and cut the average waiting time for an inquest from 44 weeks to the national average of 26.

Mr Sheffield maintains that part of the problem with the delays is caused by the police failing to provide adequate resources and the failure to provide written statements and other documentation within a reasonable timescale.

However, Mr Mallon said the public had lost confidence in the coroner and urged him to step down with immediate effect to enable a younger person to breathe new life into the service.

He said: “I still hold Michael Sheffield in the highest regard, and I have immense respect for him as the Coroner, and as a man.

“I do not intend to allow the unfortunate circumstances that we find ourselves in to affect the standing of Michael Sheffield, as he has devoted 40 years of his life to public service, and this should not be forgotten.

“However, I now call on Mr Sheffield to resign his position with immediate effect, as it is in the interests of the public and the Coroner’s Service as a whole for this to occur.”

The Mayor’s concerns were today echoed by Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop.

He said: “It’s a frustrating and tragic situation what has been taking place for many years at the Coroners Officer here on Teesside. I’ve raised the issue on numerous occasions and had particularly high hopes for reforms when the National Chief Coroner, Judge Peter Thornton QC, took on that role.

“Unfortunately, the problem has lasted the best part of a decade and many current and former MPs have called for action to be taken to deal with the problem so I am pleased to see Mayor Mallon is now also seeking a resolution.”

Mr Sheffield’s deputy, Tony Eastwood, attended the meeting as the coroner’s legal representative but said he would need to speak to his colleague before making a comment.

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

8:37pm Tue 4 Dec 12

spragger says...

Is this still going on?
Its been like this for years.
A real trauma for anyone who has the unfortunate need of his services.
It could only happen in the Public Sector, this guy has a high paying job will have a fantastic pension and all from our pockets.

Why will someone not get rid of him?
Is this still going on? Its been like this for years. A real trauma for anyone who has the unfortunate need of his services. It could only happen in the Public Sector, this guy has a high paying job will have a fantastic pension and all from our pockets. Why will someone not get rid of him? spragger
  • Score: 0

11:34pm Tue 4 Dec 12

Davy Crocket says...

He's been a loyal public servant and is good at his job. What an ageist comment to make about him being slow. He should have a medal for what he does ... its the system that's wrong not the man.
He's been a loyal public servant and is good at his job. What an ageist comment to make about him being slow. He should have a medal for what he does ... its the system that's wrong not the man. Davy Crocket
  • Score: 0

10:41am Wed 5 Dec 12

Insp Clouseau says...

My understanding of the situation is that Cleveland Police have not been giving the coroner the manpower to clear the mounting cases.

The temporary chief constable was featured on tv recently stating she was increasing the manpower. It might have been a good idea to do this ten years ago when the backlog started. Why didnt the previous chief Mr Price or his deputies get to grips with an obvious problem?

One man alone can not do the job of the coroner with such a high population who are dying each week.

Maybe the Echo can list what the coroners staff do, and look at why is there a backlog?

Is it because Cleveland police havent been helping him carry out the duties?

How many staff carry out the same role in Newcastle or Leeds? I think the answer may be a simple one, not enough staff to do the job.
How many staff has the coroner had to help him over the last ten years?

If Cleveland Police are not providing the staff maybe the questions should be pointed in their chiefs direction.

That all said, I think a good reitrement age would be 65 for the post as with most jobs.
My understanding of the situation is that Cleveland Police have not been giving the coroner the manpower to clear the mounting cases. The temporary chief constable was featured on tv recently stating she was increasing the manpower. It might have been a good idea to do this ten years ago when the backlog started. Why didnt the previous chief Mr Price or his deputies get to grips with an obvious problem? One man alone can not do the job of the coroner with such a high population who are dying each week. Maybe the Echo can list what the coroners staff do, and look at why is there a backlog? Is it because Cleveland police havent been helping him carry out the duties? How many staff carry out the same role in Newcastle or Leeds? I think the answer may be a simple one, not enough staff to do the job. How many staff has the coroner had to help him over the last ten years? If Cleveland Police are not providing the staff maybe the questions should be pointed in their chiefs direction. That all said, I think a good reitrement age would be 65 for the post as with most jobs. Insp Clouseau
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree