I am on holiday at present and have no idea whether or not I have received a letter. However, just a few words of wisdom from my previous life as a police officer; a Coroner's court functions in much the same way as any other court of law in that it relies upon witnesses to give evidence to establish facts. A witness (in any court of law) can not be compelled to make a written statement and by answering the letter you have received, it could be described as a form of statement. You are not in contempt of court if you do not reply to the letter.
What can happen if you do not answer the letter? The Coroner can issue two types of summonses: requiring your attendance at court to give oral evidence, and requiring your attendance to produce documents. All witnesses who are competent (a legal term and most of you would be competent), can be compelled to attend a Coroner's Court; a person cannot refuse to be a witness because they fear their evidence may lead to them being charged with an offence connected with the death of the deceased. Once sworn in, a witness may refuse to answer any questions put to them on the grounds of self-incrimination.
That’s the law, what will I do if I get the letter? Assuming the letter was sent out on behalf of the Coroner, I will answer it and not bother with the MOD, Col. Powell or anyone else. After all, the MOD track record in supporting soldiers who have been subjected to several investigations emanating from the Iraq conflict has been pathetic.
It seems to me that a quick solution to the the issue of the letters and save everyone’s time, would be for someone in authority to send a copy of the battalion’s war diary to the Coroner which would show our deployments.
Hope this helps but it should not be seen as legal advice as I am not qualified to give it.
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