Peter Thornton (judge)

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Sir Peter Ribblesdale Thornton QC is a Senior Circuit Judge and former Chief Coroner of England and Wales.

Legal career[edit]

Thornton was called to the bar (Middle Temple) in 1969 and elected a Bencher in 2001.[1] His trial and appellate practice included work in various jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man and Bermuda, and appearances pro bono in death penalty cases before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (which serves as a court of last resort for some Commonwealth realms). He is a founder and former head of London's Doughty Street chambers. He chaired disciplinary appeals at University College, London and the Football Association.[2]

Thornton was made Queen's Counsel in 1992 and appointed an assistant recorder in 1994. He became a recorder on 26 March 1997,[3] and a deputy High Court judge in 2003. Thornton was appointed a circuit judge on the South Eastern circuit on 12 November 2007.[4] In 2011, having been specially appointed Assistant Deputy Coroner, he presided over the inquest into the Death of Ian Tomlinson, who died during protests at the 2009 G20 Summit in London. His appointment came after the Coroner for the City of London requested that ministers appoint an experienced figure. [5]

On 22 May 2012, it was announced Thornton would be appointed chief coroner of England and Wales from 17 September 2012. In that capacity he will continue to sit on the Administrative Court so he can hear judicial reviews for coronial cases.[6]

He was knighted in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to the administration of justice and the Coroner Service.[7]


  1. ^ "His Honour Peter Thornton QC". Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  2. ^ "Peter Thornton QC appointed Senior Circuit Judge". Doughty Street Chambers. 
  3. ^ "No. 54721". The London Gazette. 3 April 1997. p. 3991. 
  4. ^ "Circuit Judge List". Judiciary of England and Wales. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Key People: Death of Ian Tomlinson". BBC News. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Appointment of Chief Coroner" (Press release). Judiciary of England and Wales. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  7. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B2.