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18 November 2021 - 18 November 2021

5:00PM - 6:30PM

Hybrid - Durham University Law School

  • Free

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Dr Imogen Jones (University of Leeds), What’s the point of a post-mortem?

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Durham University Law School

The Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ) are delighted to host Dr Imogen Jones (University of Leeds), who will be presenting, What’s the point of a post-mortem?

If you ask the people who carry out post-mortems whether they would want their loved ones to be the subject of an autopsy, in my experience, the vast majority will say no. The reasons for this are perhaps obvious: post-mortems disrupt both the grieving process and the deceased body itself. For some, they also violate religious norms regarding the treatment and disposal of the corpse. It is against this context that I examine the purpose and future of post-mortems.

 To do this I draw upon empirical data derived from interviews with several medics and mortuary staff who carry out post-mortems in England and Wales. These can be split into three broad categories: Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologists (HORFPs) who carry out autopsies in suspicious death cases, coronial pathologists who conduct post-mortems to inform non-suspicious death investigations, and Anatomical Pathology Technologists who assist both kinds of pathologist as well as caring for the body before and after autopsy.

 I will argue that these cohorts draw on different understandings of justice, as well as social and individual interests, to justify the otherwise incomprehensible. These discourses expose the sometimes overlapping, sometimes conflicting and sometimes competing discourses of law and medicine, whilst challenging us to really question who benefits from post-mortems. 


Dr Imogen Jones is an Associate Professor in Law, based at the School of Law, University of Leeds. Imogen’s research lies at the intersection of law, medicine and death studies. Her most recent project considers the values, attitudes and practices which inform the autopsy stage of unexpected death investigation. This exploratory project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, involved interviewing coronial pathologists and anatomical pathology technologists about their works. This project complements and builds upon her earlier work with Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologists (about suspicious death investigation). You can find more out about emerging themes from that research, as well as Imogen’s other/previous work around law and death here:


The event will take place in person and online. Please register here. Please note that in-person registration closes on 11 November 2021. Online registration is available until the day itself.