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All Change for Dorset's Coroner

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8:20am 16th July 2012

West Dorset's coroner of over 30 years will retire at the end of October, sparking changes to the service.

Michael Johnston, a Blandford-based solicitor, has worked part-time as the coroner since 1979.

Now Dorset County Council want to see if they can make savings under the new coroner.

That will be Mr Sheriff Payne, the full-time coroner for eastern Dorset who has an office in Bournemouth.

From November he will cover the whole of Dorset, keeping a presence in the west of Dorset and continuing to hold some inquiries in Dorchester.

Sharing one coroner across two districts will save the council around 20%, but Angus Campbell, Leader of Dorset County Council, insists it won't diminish services, saying he is "confident" the coroner will "continue to provide a first-class service to the people of Dorset".

He added: "Michael Johnston is an extremely well-respected coroner, who has served the western Dorset district superbly during the past 33 years.

"Sheriff Payne, who has been the coroner for the eastern district for several years, is the ideal person to take on a shared coroner position and we look forward to working with him."

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