The lawyer representing the family of drowned Bury schoolgirl Shukri Abdi has told 5Pillars that they feel one step closer to the truth after a pre-inquest hearing at Rochdale Coroner’s Court today.
Shukri’s family have repeatedly claimed that Greater Manchester Police and her school, Broad Oak Sports College (now renamed Hazelwood High School), have not properly investigated allegations of bullying which could have played a part in the 12 year old’s death from drowning in the River Irwell on June 27.
But after the hearing concluded this morning Attiq Malik, of Liberty Law solicitors, said: “The concern was that this would be one big tick box exercise and that nothing really was going to be considered. But the fact that we now have had a preliminary inquest review shows that the Coroner’s Court is looking into this in detail and will consider all of the evidence properly.
“The most important thing here is that the purpose of the inquest from the family’s perspective is to find the truth, the truth of what happened on that tragic day, the truth of why it happened. And we feel one step closer to that because the Coroner’s Court has had a very active and engaging preliminary inquest hearing today. But until we get that justice and truth the battle is not over.”
Malik said that Greater Manchester Police have now asked to be an “interested party” in the case because they realise that there could be a finding from the court which could trigger a homicide case.
He added: “This whole thing isn’t about blame. The family don’t care about blaming the school or blaming the police or blaming anyone. They’ve had a tragic incident when a child in the family has passed away and all they care about is finding out why that happened.
“Whenever an interview or a hearing like today happens it really brings the reality of what happened to Shukri back to them. It’s really heartbreaking to see Shukri’s mother, Zamzam, and how upset she gets. It’s almost like she’s reliving the whole thing again so from that point of view we want this over and done with sooner rather than later.”
Earlier Coroner Joanne Kersley ordered journalists not to name the four children who were with Shukri at the time of her death. But the court heard that two of them left school with her and two others met up with the group somewhere en route to the location of her death.
The Coroner also expressed concerns that the children would not be healthy enough to give evidence at the inquest or might have to do it via video link.
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing Hazelwood High School argued that three alleged incidents of bullying against Shukri, as outlined by her mother, should not be taken into consideration because they pre-dated the day of her death by six months or more.
Coroner Joanne Kersley said that the full inquest, which is due to take place at the end of February, would consider how Shukri came to her death and if they was any element of coercion. She said she would publish the scope of the inquest within a week.