Inquests into high-profile crimes such as the Soham murders will be held in secret under new proposals published yesterday.
The Government claimed that introducing new secrecy powers for coroners would make the inquest process more open.
Constitutional Affairs minister Harriet Harman (pictured) defended the plans which will allow coroners to ban the media from naming a dead person or publishing information which could lead to their identification.
The proposals are designed to apply mainly to dead children and suicides.
But the busiest coroner in England and Wales, who sat alongside the minister at the launch of a draft Bill, said he struggled to think of any situations in which the new powers should be used.
Ms Harman said: "Coroners have told me that when they believe it is not in the public interest, but they need to do a proper inquest, they effectively sit in private and the whole thing is a bit too much under the carpet.
"This will regulate the whole thing. The criminal courts are not secret courts - they sit in public, but they have the power to impose reporting restrictions.
"We are putting coroners' courts in the terms of openness on the same footing as the criminal courts.
"The practical effect of this will make it more open, with some privacy safeguards."
However, North London coroner Dr William Dolman said: "In all my years on the coroner's bench, I don't think I have ever had to have the secret inquests that have been referred to.
"Sometimes there are coded questions that don't give all the circumstances.
"As far as identities are concerned, in my experience I have never even thought of hiding identities. It must be a very rare occasion.
"There is no intention, certainly not from the Coroners' Society, to hold things in private or in secret. We are all in favour of openness."
He added that secrecy powers had been proposed by Dame Janet Smith following her inquiry into the mass murders by GP Harold Shipman, but that proposal was rejected by coroners.
He went on: "I can only think of one possible case where I would have to hear in private, but that is for security reasons rather than to protect identities."
Redcar MP Vera Baird QC welcomed the Government's plans to reform the inquest system.
Ms Baird, now a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, has led a campaign to have her local coroner sacked because of an alleged backlog of inquests.
In 2004 the Lord Chancellor severely reprimanded Tees-side Coroner Michael Sheffield following an investigation by a circuit judge into how he handled cases.
The MP has since raised concerns about an alleged continuing backlog.
"The people of Teesside have played a big role in the development of this Bill," she said.
"By coming to local MPs with the extraordinarily touching problems caused by the massive delays in this coroner's jurisdiction, they have persuaded the Government that change is urgent.
"Grieving people had nowhere else to go to seek help and we MPs had to trigger a cumbersome disciplinary procedure which hadn't been used for centuries."
Liberal Democrat constitutional affairs spokesman Simon Hughes MP said: "These proposals are welcome, as coroner's courts have failed the public too often over many years.
"Inquests must be family-centred, free from bureaucracy and legal formality, but effective in finding the truth.
"Coroners and relatives must be free to challenge findings and ask for second opinions.
"However, proposals to close the doors and shut out the public are worrying and should be resisted. The finding of facts and the provision of justice must always be seen to be done."