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Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs enters row over coroner Mary Hassell withdrawing special burial arrangements for Jewish and Muslim people

PUBLISHED: 16:18 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:37 24 January 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.

Archant

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has waded into a row over a coroner who has been heavily criticised for withdrawing special burial arrangements for Jewish and Muslim people.

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs has written to Ms Hasssell.  Picture: Mike Brooke.Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs has written to Ms Hasssell. Picture: Mike Brooke.

John Biggs has today written to Mary Hassell, the senior coroner for inner north London, to express his concern about the loss of confidence in her services following her controversial decision.

Ms Hassell’s coroners’ court covers the borough which is home to the UK’s biggest Muslim community and neighbouring Hackney, which has the biggest concentration of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Europe.

Her decision raised eyebrows as 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 the letter Mr Biggs also slammed Ms Hassell for making the ‘insensitive and discriminatory’ decision which ‘ignored the needs’ of both religious communities.

He told the Advertiser: “This is clearly unacceptable. It is vital that our residents have confidence in the coroner service.

“Dealing with bereavement is a stressful time and this public service should respond to the needs of the people it serves.

“I want answers for our residents in Tower Hamlets.”

Jewish leaders have called for her to be sacked, saying she has lost the confidence of the community.

Ms Hassell, who took up her post in 2013, had previously said that no death will be prioritised on religious grounds.

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