A High Court judge has refused leave for a judicial review of the circumstances surrounding the death of Bury schoolgirl Shukri Abdi.
Lawyers representing the mother of the 12-year-old, who drowned in the River Irwell in June 2019, had insisted Manchester North Coroner Joanne Kearsley was responsible for the way she conducted its 2020 survey.
But Judge Fordham, after hearing submissions on behalf of the mother, Zamzam Arab Ture, and the coroner, ruled that a successful judicial review was highly unlikely.
An inquest in Rochdale heard Shukri, who attended Broadoak Sports College, now known as Hazel Wood High, drowned after walking into Irwell with another schoolgirl, who can only be called Child One for legal reasons.
Child One entered the water first before Shukri, who could not swim, followed her, the hearing was told.
The inquest heard that Child One had gone underwater at some point and Shukri was holding her. But Child One pushed her away and Shukri then got in trouble and drowned.
Coroner Ms Kearsley, who recorded an accidental finding in Shukri’s death, ruled that while Child One owed a duty of care to the second daughter, her actions did not constitute a finding of grossly negligent manslaughter.
Ms Kearsley said: “Child One was naive, she was stupid, she thought she could teach Shukri to swim, it was reckless.
“She has no intention of harming him. At the highest, it was a serious error in judgement.”
Legal proceedings have been initiated by the family, who arrived in this country in 2017 from Somalia, following a million-signature petition demanding “Justice for Shukri” and following protests across the country. UK.
A previous application for judicial review had been dismissed, on the papers, by Judge Robin Knowles in July 2021.
The High Court was told that Mrs Ture’s case, which had been amended during the proceedings, now rested on three main grounds.
The first was that the coroner had “acted unreasonably or unfairly in his approach to key aspects relating to the nature and scope of his inquisitorial investigation”.
Another was that she gave ‘legally inadequate reasons’ and a third was that she ‘came to conclusions that were not reasonable or supported by the evidence’.
His lawyers argued that the alleged errors made should result in the coroner’s original finding being set aside and a new inquest ordered.
This could then consider alternative conclusions such as “unlawful killing” or an open-ended or narrative conclusion, the court said.
Stephen Simblet QC, on behalf of the family, argued the coroner was wrong to limit the scope of his inquests to the day in question and discounted evidence of earlier ‘intimidation’ involving Shukri and at least two of those present when she drowned.
He also told the court that the topic of whether the trip to the river was “planned” and the evidence of whether Shukri was “forced” or “pushed” into the water were not sufficiently explored.
Mr Simblet also disputed that a witness called Child One, who was with Shukri in the water, did not testify live, due to health reasons.
But Judge Fordham noted that the coroner had identified that in Ms Ture’s statement she could not identify any issues of bullying between Child One and her daughter. In the same way, she judged that the statements of her spouse and two child witnesses would not help the investigation.
Judge Fordham also said the family’s lawyers, during the inquest, made no statement to establish why three child witnesses should be called to help clarify the allegations of ‘planning’ or ‘pushing’ that ‘They did.
The high court judge added: “I have been unable to find in this case an arguable ground for judicial review with a realistic prospect of success.
“I have not been shown any aspect of the process, reasoning or conclusions which in my opinion – whether individually or cumulatively with other features of the case – involves a questionable flaw in terms of public law.”