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New coroner for Black Country revealed

A former crown court prosecutor has been named the new senior coroner for the Black Country.


Zafar Siddique will take over responsibility of investigating sudden and suspicious deaths in September.

He says he hopes to provide a 'timely and effective' service to families when he takes on the post.

He said he will also pioneer the use of digital imaging in his role, which will cover Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

He will take over from Robin Balmain, who is to retire after 40 years as a coroner.

Mr Siddique said: "I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to serve the diverse communities of the Black Country and wish to build upon the work of the retiring coroner, Mr Balmain.

"I am keen to fully exploit the use of digital working - including pioneering the use of digital imaging - and delivering a timely and effective coronial service by putting the families of the bereaved at the heart of the inquest process".

Mr Siddique had been an assistant coroner for Coventry and Warwickshire since 2010 and he is currently the deputy coroner for Birmingham and Solihull.

He had previously worked in medical genetics, as a solicitor and as chief crown prosecutor for Warwickshire and deputy chief crown prosecutor for the West Midlands.

In his new role he will be responsible for investigating the cause of sudden or suspicious deaths. His patch is one of largest coronial areas in the UK.

Sandwell Council made the appointment yesterday. (MON)

Deputy leader Councillor Mahboob Hussain welcomed Mr Siddique to the role.

He said: "I am extremely pleased to confirm that Mr Siddique will be joining us as the new senior coroner for the Black Country.

"This is an excellent appointment and we look forward to working closely with him.

"I am sure Mr Siddique will continue the excellent work of the coroner's service in Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

"Many people don't see the hard work that goes on behind the scenes – particularly the work the coroner does with families, so often in very difficult circumstances.

"I'd also like to extend my thanks to the outgoing coroner, Mr Robin Balmain. He has been an excellent public servant and I wish him all the best for his forthcoming retirement."

In February, Mr Balmain announced his retirement, claiming it had been a 'great honour' to serve the area.

He first became the assistant deputy coroner for the area then known as Sandwell North, covering West Bromwich, in 1972, working part-time while he continued in his role as a solicitor with Lyon Clark.

He later became deputy coroner for that area, before becoming coroner for Sandwell in 2000, after Sandwell North had been merged with Sandwell South, which covered Smethwick.

He then became the first Black Country coroner in 2005.

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