Coroner apologises after heated exchange with lawyer at Windrush migrant inquest

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A coroner has had a heated exchange with the lawyer of the family of a Windrush migrant who was trying to prove his British citizenship when he died.

Dexter Bristol, 57, collapsed in the street and died while caught up in the immigration scandal that saw people deported, detained or denied access to benefits and healthcare because they could not prove they were in the country legally.

An inquest into his death is being held at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Tuesday.

Una Morris, representing Mr Bristol’s family, repeatedly tried to make submissions to the court about the role Home Office policy might have played in his death.

Coroner Dr William Dolman accused her of “trying to tell me how to run my court” and repeatedly ordered her to sit down.

He abruptly called a break after the heated exchange between the two of them.

Dr Dolman later apologised to Ms Morris and Mr Bristol’s family, saying: “I didn’t mean any discourtesy at all.”

Ms Morris responded: “My concern isn’t for myself as much as the impact on the family, the family are deeply upset at the way you spoke to me.”

Dr Dolman ruled that the Home Office should not be an interested party in the inquest as its policy was not relevant to the immediate circumstances of his death.

He said it is “absolutely clear that he was under some sort of distress or pressure” but that this did not come solely from his immigration status.

A second break was called at the family’s request.

Ms Morris said they are “considering whether they want to continue participating with this process”.

Mr Bristol died of natural causes on March 31 having suffered acute heart failure.

He had not visited his GP for more than a year and believed he could not change surgeries unless he could prove his immigration status.

He also could not get a job because he did not have documents proving his right to work.

Mr Bristol, who lived in Camden, north London, died shortly before a letter arrived suggesting a breakthrough in his case.

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