Coroners are using a new verdict in inquests.
They are called ‘narrative verdicts’. The coroner does not deliver a verdict from the usual list – eg suicide, misadventure, accidental death etc.
Instead he sums up his findings in a verbal judgement – or narrative.
Reporters may find it hard to summarise the narrative without losing some of the subtle nuances in the case. But they should try to use as much detail to make sure the report, and the verdict, are both fair and accurate. The best approach is to use the narrative as a quote from the Coroner, and also include the phrase: ‘The coroner recorded a narrative verdict.’
However – reporters should NOT quote explicit details of the method of suicide from the narrative, as this could breach the PCC Code.
The PC censured the Reading Chronicle for publishing an inquest report on the death of a woman who killed herself by consuming poisonous leaves. It included the type of leaf used, how the woman found out about them, and the fact there was no antidote. The PCC ruled the information may have encouraged copycat suicides.