The widower and children of a teacher murdered by a student have lost their legal challenge against a coroner’s decision not to call pupils as witnesses at a forthcoming inquest.
Ann Maguire, 61, was stabbed to death by Will Cornick at Corpus Christi Catholic College, Leeds, in April 2014.
A High Court judge has ruled against the call for a judicial review of the coroner’s decision.
The inquest is scheduled to begin at Wakefield Coroners’ Court in November.
Dismissing the claim for a judicial review, judge Mr Justice Holroyde said: “I have much sympathy for the claimants, and I fully understand their reasons for wishing to pursue this line of inquiry.
“However, I am unable to accept the submission that the assistant coroner reached a decision which was so seriously flawed as to be unreasonable.”
The request for a judicial review was opposed by others, including the sisters of Mrs Maguire.
One of them, Sheila Connor, also a teacher, said she was worried about students being questioned as to their actions, or lack of action, before the killing, and the possibility of attaching blame to them.
Her views were echoed by Dominic Kelly, the vice-principal of Notre Dame Sixth Form College in Leeds, who said in 2016 that some of its pupils had expressed “concern that they could have prevented the tragedy” and “guilt that they had failed to protect their teacher”.
‘Risk of harm’
In additional report in May, he added: “The risk of formally and publicly asking the students involved questions that they have been asking themselves for three years is far greater than any perceived benefit that could be gained.”
The Maguire family had wished the coroner to call former pupils, especially those interviewed by the police.
Many of them heard Cornick make threats and claim to have knives in his bag on the day of the murder.
Most did not take his comments seriously but he threatened a fellow student who said he would report him.
Mr Justice Holroyde said those recorded police interviews should be sufficient for the assistant coroner to consider.
He said: “The assistant coroner was entitled to conclude that there was a clear risk of harm to former pupils in calling them to give evidence, but that there was little prospect of their oral evidence assisting materially in ascertaining the circumstances of Mrs Maguire’s death or in learning lessons for the future.”
Lawyer Yogi Amin said Mrs Maguire’s husband and children would “now take stock and discuss the options with their legal team”.
“They remain committed to finding out the truth and exactly what happened on the day Ann was killed through a thorough, open and fair process,” Mr Amin said.
“They believe it is the only way that lessons will be learned from the incident.”
Cornick, who was 15 at the time, was given a life sentence in 2014 after he admitted murdering Mrs Maguire, who had taught Spanish at Corpus Christi for more than 40 years.
In November 2016, a report by Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said no-one could have predicted or prevented Mrs Maguire’s murder.