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Divisional Court quashes inquest into death of Ben Condon


The Divisional Court (Stuart-Smith LJ and May J) on 20th October 2021 quashed the inquest into the death of Benjamin Tobias Condon, an infant who tragically died at Bristol Children’s Hospital in 2015, and ordered a new inquest into his death.

The findings of the original inquest, which were based on the evidence available to the Coroner at the relevant time, did not make any mention of a bacterial infection or of the potential relevance of antibiotics.  Following that inquest, the Trust accepted (in light of a civil claim) that there had indeed been a bacterial infection and that earlier prescribing of antibiotics could have prevented his death.

Allyn Condon, the father of Ben Condon, applied (following receipt of the Attorney-General’s fiat) for an order under section 13(1)(b) of the Coroners Act 1988 for the quashing of the original inquest and the granting of a new one.

The Divisional Court granted that application, holding that the statutory test was met.  In particular, the Divisional Court indicated that there was no doubt that the change of position by the Trust constituted new evidence, and that there was no doubt that there was at least the possibility of different conclusions being reached in a subsequent inquest.  It did not accept the submissions of the Trust that such an order would discourage the settlement of civil claims.

The judgment was given ex tempore and will be published in due course. Media reports can be found here and here.  

Jennifer MacLeod acted unled for the successful Claimant, pro bono.  She was originally instructed through Advocate, and subsequently through Novum Law.