Who we are

Philip Spinney

Philip Spinney is the HM Senior Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon.

Philip is an experienced solicitor and advocate with a background in public, administrative and criminal law. His legal career started as a solicitor in private practice in Dorset before being commissioned into the Legal Branch of the Royal Air Force in 1996.

He initially served with the Royal Air Force Prosecuting Authority and later undertook a variety of legal roles which included advising the senior leadership of the Royal Air Force and Ministers on aspects of constitutional, international and military law.

He was the first legal adviser to the newly formed Military Aviation Authority where he was the appointed adviser to all fatal accident inquiries.

Philip also served overseas with NATO and the United Nations and served on operations in Bosnia, Abkhazia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Philip completed the Joint Service Advanced Staff and Command Course and as a senior officer sat on the Legal Branch Management Board.

Whilst serving with The Royal Air Force Philip was appointed as an Assistant Coroner in the Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon Jurisdiction.

Philip achieved the rank of Air Commodore and on leaving the Royal Air Force Philip was appointed as an Assistant Land Registrar to HM Land Registry in Plymouth and also continued to sit regularly as an Assistant Coroner in Devon.

In 2016 Philip was appointed as the Area Coroner to the newly formed South Wales Central Coroner Area where he had the day to day responsibility for the Cardiff Coroner’s Court and office.

In 2018 Philip was appointed as the Senior Coroner in the Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner Area.

Philip lives in Devon with his wife, Gill and their two children. He is a keen sailor and enjoys spending time on Dartmoor running and walking with his family and dogs.

John Tomalin is the HM Deputy Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon.

John studied Law at Kingston University qualifying as a solicitor in June 1981.  Initially John practiced as a litigation solicitor, dealing with both civil and criminal work, including personal injury claims, negligence actions, contractual disputes and family law.

In 1986 John moved from his firm’s litigation department to become partner in charge of the private client department at Seldons LLP in Bideford, North Devon, advising families on will drafting and tax planning, powers of attorney and estate administration.  John is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners as well as a member of the Solicitors for the Elderly Group.

John was appointed HM Assistant Coroner for the County of Devon (Exeter and Greater Devon) in 2008 and Deputy to the Senior Coroner in 2013.

John has lived in North Devon for many years with his wife and family.

Lydia Brown

Lydia Brown is HM Assistant Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon.

Lydia studied law at Manchester University and completed Law Society Finals in 1992, before practising as a solicitor specialising in Clinical Negligence for over 10 years.

A move to Exmoor also prompted a brief career change to own a busy restaurant for 2 years.

Lydia then started working with the NHS in-house legal team in Leicester University Hospital Trust and was appointed HM Assistant Coroner in Leicester in 2010 and in addition as HM Assistant Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon in 2012.

She now divides her time between these 2 areas, and in any remaining spare time is a keen dog walker, Duke of Edinburgh Award Leader and mother of two daughters.

Luisa Nicholson is HM Assistant Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon.

Luisa studied law in Birmingham before joining West Midlands Police Force.

She decided to become a solicitor and left the police service in order to complete her legal training in Exeter and qualified with a firm in Barnstaple in 2003.

She moved to south Devon after qualification and in 2012 set up her own practice specialising in private client matters (wills, probate, estate administration) and older clients’ issues.

Luisa was appointed H M Assistant Coroner for Exeter and Greater Devon in 2013. She has a particular interest in emergency planning and disaster victim identification.