Chief imam of East London Mosque asks coroner Mary Hassell to reconsider religious burials decision

PUBLISHED: 15:03 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:40 14 February 2018

Mary Hassell is the senior coroner for inner north London coroners' court. Picture credit: Archant.

Mary Hassell is the senior coroner for inner north London coroners' court. Picture credit: Archant.


The chief imam of a Whitechapel mosque has written to a coroner asking her to reconsider her controversial decision not to prioritise religious burials.

Abdul Qayum from the East London Mosque is urging Mary Hassell to reverse her policy which has been heavily criticised by members of the Muslim and Jewish community.

Ms Hassell, whose remit covers Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Islington and Camden, said that no death will be prioritised on religious grounds.

Both religions call for bodies to be buried as quickly as possible after death, often the same day, and an invasive autopsy should be avoided.

In his letter Mr Qayum said: “In my experience, coroner services have been able to respect religious needs without disadvantaging

anyone else.

“Indeed, the Ministry of Justice in its guidance makes clear that your office must take account of family and community preferences, including religious requirements.

“I hope you will reconsider the position you have taken, and ensure that families seeking an expedited burial will be accommodated whenever possible as a matter of course.”

An Orthodox Jewish organisation has been granted the right to launch a judicial review over Ms Hassell’s decision.

The High Court hearing will take place on March 27 and 28.

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