FAMILIES of servicemen killed in action have been promised that the length of time they have to wait for an inquest will be shortened.
The Ministry of Justice said it will appoint a chief coroner to oversee military inquests such as that of Richard Hollington, a Royal Marine from Petersfield who died from infected wounds sustained in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
Mne Hollington died on June 20 last year, but his family had to wait until this week for the inquest.
As reported in The News, Robin Hollington criticised the length of time it takes for inquests to be held.
Ministry officials said they were reforming the coroners’ system and this should speed up the process.
It comes as the government has performed a U-turn on scrapping the post of chief coroner following opposition from the Royal British Legion.
The government had chosen to abolish the position, which was created in 2009 but never filled.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘We are reforming the coroners’ system, appointing a chief coroner who will oversee the inquests of service personnel, and introducing a new charter that sets out the standards everyone should expect at an inquest. This should provide a better service to the bereaved families of service personnel.
‘There is currently no backlog of military inquests but our reforms will continue to reduce any waiting times.’
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said all inquests were the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.
Mr Hollington said appointing a chief coroner could be a step forward, but was worried it may cost more money in the long run and overcomplicate matters.
He suggested having a cohort of semi-retired coroners who would work on a part-time basis to cover military inquests and ensure they are done within a year.
He added: ‘The families of our fallen are being treated badly.
‘When you do the maths, it’s a pittance.’