Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

London Coroner Under Fire For Delaying Jewish Burials

(JTA) — A coroner’s office in London has come under fire after multiple families have complained about delayed Jewish burials.

The London-based Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday that one woman made 210 phone calls to the St. Pancras coroner’s office in central London before being assured that her father would be buried four days after his death. According to both Jewish and Islamic law, bodies of the deceased must be buried as soon as possible after death, ideally on the same day.

Mary Hassell, the senior coroner at the St. Pancras office, told the family of Barry Davis last week that it would be two weeks before an autopsy could be performed and a funeral held. Several other similar cases have been reported.

Hassell also asserted in a letter to Jewish community leaders that “no death will be prioritized in any way over any other because of the religion of the deceased or family, either by coroner’s officers or coroners.”

She added in the letter that she would no longer allow Jewish bodies to be held at a local Jewish funeral home, instead of the mortuary, to enable shemirah, or guarding by fellow Jews, until their burials.

Trevor Asserson, an attorney representing Stamford Hill’s Adath Yisroel Burial Society, told the Jewish Chronicle that Hassell has “shown a total disregard for, or ignorance of, the law in deciding never to give priority to ‘faith deaths.’ Her conduct demonstrates what I consider to be a gross disregard for the religious sensibilities, as well as the legal rights, of the Muslim and Jewish families whose deceased relatives come under her control.”

In 2015, Hassell lost a judicial review brought by the family of an Orthodox Jewish woman. Hassell’s office insisted that the woman have an invasive autopsy, which is against Orthodox law. Last year Hassell was formally reprimanded by the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office for publicizing a letter in which she alleged that she was being bullied by the Jewish community.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at help@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.