What exactly killed Amy Winehouse? Though that question had supposedly been (finally) put to rest, British authorities have discovered that Suzanne Greenaway, the coroner who led the inquest into the singer's death last year, was unqualified for her position — raising the possibility that her verdict may be overturned. Here, a brief guide:
What did the original investigation say?
Greenaway ruled in October that Winehouse had died from accidental alcohol poisoning. After hearing evidence from a pathologist, Winehouse's doctor, and the security guard who discovered the singer dead in her bedroom — alongside three empty vodka bottles — Greenaway delivered the official verdict of "death by misadventure." The consensus theory: Sudden binge drinking caused Winehouse, who'd been sober for several weeks, to suffer alcohol poisoning.
But Greenaway wasn't qualified?
Apparently not. Though Greenaway practiced law for a decade in her native Australia, reports Owen Bowcott at the U.K.'s Guardian, she didn't have the five years of experience as a U.K. lawyer that Britain requires of assistant deputy corners. She was appointed by her husband Andrew Reid, the coroner for inner north London. "I believed at the time that her experience as a solicitor and barrister in Australia satisfied the requirements of the post," Reid said in a statement Wednesday, calling the appointment "an error in good faith." Greenaway actually resigned in November, the Associated Press reports, but the news is just now coming to light.
So the investigation will have to be reopened?
Verdicts that Greenaway delivered in 12 cases — including Winehouse's — are now subject to be challenged in High Court, says MSNBC. Her judgments could be ruled illegal, and the individual investigations reopened. Still, reports The Sun, which broke the news, "officials insist this will only happen if verdicts are challenged in the Hight Court," and that decision is up to the families of the deceased in each case.
What will Winehouse's family do?
Time will tell. In a statement, they said they are "taking advice on the implications of this and will decide if any further discussion with the authorities is needed." On Wednesday morning, Winehouse's father, Mitch, tweeted, "Don't worry about coroner nonsense. We are all ok." Defending his wife and his decision to appoint her, Reid says that he is "confident that all of the inquests handled were done so correctly." Nonetheless, he is writing to the families of those affected and offering to rehear the cases.
Sources: Associated Press, Guardian, MSNBC, Sun, Twitter, Week
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- The crusade against Iraq War supporters has forgotten someone: Hillary Clinton
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- This week I learned the moon might be littered with dinosaur fossils, and more
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why scientists can't kill HIV
Subscribe to the Week