The Birmingham coroner has been ordered by the Justice Minister to open an inquest on a 77-year-old war veteran who died at a nursing home in the city.
Leslie Vines’ family were celebrating yesterday after winning their five-year battle to overturn Aidan Cotter's decision not to hold an inquest.
Mr Vines died at the Maypole Nursing Home, in Kings Heath, in September 2002, 10 days after he moved their.
His daughter Hazel Bicknell won a judicial review at London’s High Court in October to quash the coroner’s original decision, and the matter was referred to Justice Secretary Jack Straw, to decide whether Mr Cotter should be forced to hold an inquest.
A date for a pre-hearing review has been set for July 4.
Mrs Bicknell, from Shirley, Solihull, spoke of her "utter relief" after her lengthy legal battle. She said: "We are all over the moon with Jack Straw’s decision, I never thought it would happen because we’d been waiting so long.
"It’s an utter relief, to know someone believed us. Irwin Mitchell [law practice] worked so hard for us, but I was annoyed we had to go up to Jack Straw for someone to believe us, to force the coroner to hold an inquest.
"We always said we’d never give up until we had an inquest. I never believed the home’s explanation for his death, so I’m glad we may now finally get answers. I do believe Dad didn’t die from natural causes but as a result of neglect and the way he was treated at the Maypole."
Mr Vines, who had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, was discharged from Heartlands Hospital in August 2002 into the nursing home, run by GPs Dr Jamalapuram Hari Gopal and his wife Dr Pratury Samrajya Lakshmi.
His family claimed his condition deteriorated and within 48 hours he was in "a zombie-like state". He died on September 7, 2002.
The pensioner’s cause of death was recorded as bronchial pneumonia. Neither a post mortem or inquest was held.
The home was closed six months later, in March 2003, after a surprise inspection by the National Care Standards Council revealed it was filthy and understaffed.
Both GPs were struck off the Medical Register by the General Medical Council in January 2007, for serious professional misconduct.
A total of 27 residents died at the home – which had 36 beds – in 2002, compared with eight deaths in 2001.
Victoria Blankstone, of Birmingham law firm Irwin Mitchell, for the family, said: "Launching a judicial review was not a decision that was taken lightly but we felt there were too many unanswered questions regarding Mr Vines’ death which demanded a formal inquest investigation."
Mr Cotter refused to comment, only to confirm he had an order from the Ministry of Justice, under Section 15 of the Coroners Act 1988, to look into the circumstances of the pensioner’s death.
* Kathleen Smith, the home’s former nursing manager, and two colleagues Mary Casey and Carol Bushell, face a string of misconduct charges for their work at the home at a Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing, which continues at Jury’s Inn hotel today.