Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Penelope Schofield

In answer to a question previously posed, the county in which a practising coroner has a conviction for perverting the course of justice is...drumroll please... West Sussex.

Take a bow, Ms Penelope Schofield, a former prosecutor. Ms Schofield went to prison for lying to protect her detective boyfriend.

Unsurprisingly, her stay in Holloway wasn't a pleasant one.

West Sussex had the following to say:

West Sussex County Council has no reservations about the coroner's suitability for office. She fully disclosed details of her background when she was interviewed for the position. Members of the Appointment Panel were able to give the facts full consideration. The decision that she was the best candidate for the position has been reinforced by the outstanding professional abilities she has brought to the role.

At least she's a good coroner, eh?


  1. Lord High ExecutionerMarch 9, 2010 at 6:53 AM

    I hope this blogg is not going to get like the News of the World dragging up much from way back when. This lady cocked -up paid the price and had been deemed rehabilitated. Can't we let sleeping dogs lie!(no pun intended)

    1. No. If an ordinary member of the public has a criminal record such as Schofield they would not be employed in positions of trust but Schofield is no ordinary member of the public her father was a lawyer and I believe a district judge so there are rules for some depending on what cast you are. Britain is corrupt just better than other countries at disguise, when you start looking at who is who in the jungle you find many in top positions within the civil services are related to one another, keep it in the family, if an outsider is needed you will be taught to put up and shut up if you don't you won't last long.

  2. @Lord High Executioner ... but doesn't this story reveal corruption and cronyism within the system?

    Why should she - "daughter of a respected retired solicitor" - have the job instead of someone else?

    On a similar note, when reading R v Hoey [2007] NICC 49, I wonder what became of the police officers who gave such vital evidence as the following,

    "In this case a most disturbing situation was exposed by the Defence. It came to light that a Ms Cooper, then a SOCO but now apparently a police officer, gave evidence that she was wearing protective clothing at this scene when in fact she was wearing nothing of the kind, as photographs taken at the scene fortunately revealed. I add that she gave similarly incorrect evidence in relation to her apparel at Forkhill, again happily exposed by the availability of photographs. A Detective Chief Inspector Marshall also gave evidence about his wearing protective clothing at Altmore which photographs proved to be incorrect. These two witnesses were responsible for dealing with exhibits from Altmore including the TPU and for transporting it to the Forensic Laboratory in Belfast and later to the laboratory in Birmingham for DNA examination. The explanation as to how their untruths came to be told and the deliberate attempts, as I am satisfied they were, to conceal what the Defence not unfairly characterised as the "beefing up" of the initial statement of Ms Cooper are deeply disquieting. I am left in the position that I do not know what if anything I can believe of the evidence of these two and I am satisfied that, had photographs not been available to gainsay their lies, they would have persisted in seeking to and very possibly have succeeded in convincing me that, being at that time (somewhat unusually if the evidence of others is correct) alive to the possibility of DNA contamination, they were wearing suitable protective clothing to obviate such a risk. Such was my disquiet at their evidence and that of others connected with this matter that upon its completion I had transcripts of the evidence on this issue sent to the Police Ombudsman. The effect of this, as I find deliberate and calculated deception in which others concerned in the investigation and preparation of this case for trial beyond these two witnesses may also have played a part, is to make it impossible for me to accept any of the evidence of either witness since I have no means of knowing whether they may have told lies about other aspects of the case that were not capable of being exposed as such."

  3. I accept that what happened was wrong- but is there no forgiveness, rehabilitation,redemption?
    Though I have to say given the proximity to appointment and the offence, my eyes were raised given that even the minimum rehabilitation period under the 1974 Act had not passed.
    So maybe it was a little premature to forgive and forget!

  4. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean forgetfulness. For example, and I hesitate to draw a comparison, for patently obvious reasons, a convicted sex offender will remain on the Sex Offenders' Register for life, and will not be permitted to work with children.

    Ms Schofield's offending struck at the very heart of justice. Deliberately lying in court for her own reasons, she was sent to prison, an extraordinary fall from the lofty and highly-revered position of Prosecutor.

    More seriously, if I ever come across a previous conviction for 'perverting', as it's known in the trade, that's it, the bad character application goes in, it's usually granted, and you can have fun watching the poor bugger explain that yes, he was telling porkies last time, but this time he really meant it when he swore his oath.

    She swore an oath to tell the truth, and didn't. She now administers such oaths in her own court of law. I simply wonder what credibility I can attach to the exercise of her functions, in light of how seriously she took the justice system the first time round?

    Imagine that a loved one meets a 'sudden and unnatural' end requiring investigation by a coroner. The circumstances suggest that the police caused the death in custody by mistreating the deceased. Would you want her as the coroner? A woman who lied on oath to protect her policeman boyfriend? Would you be able to trust her to be impartial?

  5. Nobody is saying she shouldn't be allowed to work in any capacity, just not in a legal one.

  6. One of the qualities and skills that a lawyer should possess is that of good judgment. Another is common sense. A third is integrity.

    I fail to see how a solicitor with a conviction for perverting the course of justice could be said to have any of these qualities.

    Either it is a shocking indictment of the quality of the other candidates that she was the best the panel could find or else the panel themselves are as unsuitable as this coronor appears to be.

    On another point, I was amused (and quite concerned) that her trial solicitor was "surprised" when she received a custodial sentence. Frankly, I would have been amazed if she got anything else. I do hope those lawyers are no longer practising.

  7. As an ex police officer and now Magistrate this beggars belief. Perverting is one of the most serious offences. A Coroner is an independent judicial office holder and should not be someone who has served a prison term. Any Magistrate would be sacked straight away as would a police officer. This boggles the mind.

  8. mcmrjp -- Quite. As my dear mother would have said, "my flabber is well and truly gasted." Still, greater minds than mine have decided that judicial office becomes her, and that would appear to be that.

  9. Surely, anyone convicted of any offence involving dishonesty ought not to hold judicial office. As mcmrjp has said, a magistrate would have been removed. It seems that there is a gross double standard at work.

    1. This is incredulous. How does someone who is automatically barred from being a Magistrate get through to be one of H.M. Coroners? It strikes at the basic foundations of society. The fundamentals of life in this country is a democracy through Parliament and the rule of law through the judicial system. You cannot have anyone presiding over such a keystone as the Courts who does not have a clean past and a history of absolute integrity. To do otherwise is to make a total mockery of our core principles.

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  14. I think it is wrong that she should be able to hold such a position after having shown such contempt and disregard for the law and truth. Furthermore, from personal experience, I think she is not a very good coroner, incapable of delivering a concise, balanced summary of evidence. She is neither competent or credible.