LONDON—The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, expressed support for the Board of Deputies of British Jews in its clash with a senior coroner over delays in releasing bodies for burial, the Jewish Chronicle reports.
The Mayor urged Mary Hassell, the senior coroner for St Pancras Coroner’s Court, to show “respect for families and faith communities”.
“When somebody dies, it’s extremely distressing,” said Khan. “Those who follow the Jewish and Islamic faith – it’s an important part of our beliefs and our culture to bury our loved one as soon as possible.”
Hassell provoked outrage after saying she would not prioritise any death for religious reasons.
Hassell’s north London jurisdiction covers Hackney, home to Europe’s biggest strictly Orthodox community, as well as Camden, Islington and Tower Hamlets, the local authority with the UK’s largest Muslim population.
Both Judaism and Islam requires the deceased to be buried as quickly as possible.
The Board of Deputies’ Vice President, Marie Van Der Zyl, and Sidney Sinitsky, a representative of the Adath Yisroel Burial Society (AYBS), described as ‘’deeply disappointing’’ a meeting they had lasy Friday with Hassell. ‘’She showed little interest in addressing the Jewish community’s concerns in her work,” they said.
Van Der Zyl said the coroner “must go,” because of her “repeated failure to support bereaved Jewish and Muslim families”.
The Board said it would be writing to the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, David Gauke, and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett of Maldon, to request her removal from post.