The inquest which was conducted into the death of singer Amy Winehouse has been called into doubt after it emerged that the coroner in the case may not have had the necessary experience to oversee the case.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has now referred the matter to the Office for Judicial Complaints for a review.
Amy Winehouse was just 27 when she was found dead in her North London flat. She was widely known to have been battling addictions to alcohol and drugs for many years but her death came as a surprise to many who felt that she had turned a corner.
The inquest heard that she had a very large quantity of alcohol in her system on the night she died and the coroner, Suzanne Greenaway, decided that it was this that led to her death, recording a verdict of death by misadventure.
Under the present law, a coroner must have at least five years' legal experience in the UK. Greenaway had qualified as a barrister and a solicitor in Australia in 1999 but had not worked in the UK for the five year period.
The controversy is heightened by the fact that her husband, Andrew Reid, is the coroner in St Pancras where the inquest was held, and it was he who appointed his wife to take the hearing.
Now Mr Reid is writing to around 30 families whose relatives were the subject of inquests carried out by his wife to ask if they wish to have their cases re-heard.
"I appointed my wife as an assistant deputy coroner as I believed at the time that her experience as a solicitor and barrister in Australia satisfied the requirements of the post. However, in November of last year it became apparent that I had made an error in the appointment process and I accepted her resignation," said Mr Reid.
"While I am confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly, I apologise if this matter causes distress to the families and friends of the deceased and I will be writing to those affected to personally apologise and offer for their cases to be reheard if requested," he added.
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