A father was “hounded” by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) for money he did not owe in the months before he took his own life, a pre-inquest review has heard.

Rail depot worker Gavin Briggs was found dead in Little Somborne, near Stockbridge, on July 3 last year.

His father, Ian Briggs, told the hearing at Winchester Coroner’s Court that his son had been chased by the CMS for £26,000, which he said was based on incorrect figures.

He added that his 40-year-old son, from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, was also facing pressures from his employment with Hitachi at the North Pole rail depot in London where he was undergoing a probation review.

Mr Briggs said that Hitachi had “implemented lots of changes” following his son’s death, and wanted the CMS to do the same.

The pre-inquest hearing had been arranged following a previous hearing in January, with Area Coroner Jason Pegg saying it had been called as the family’s desired scope for the inquest “was not as I intended it to be”.

Mr Briggs had submitted documents, and asked for a witness to be called, to demonstrate the validity of his claims against the CMS.

However, an at times exasperated Mr Pegg said that this was beyond the remit of an inquest, which can only look at the inferred state of mind of the deceased and not the “whys and wherefores” of any concerns.

He said: “The inquest is not a public inquiry, it is not for me to assess documents.

“It has to focus on Gavin as a point of law.”

Mr Briggs disputed this, saying that as an aeronautical engineer, he was used to investigations following fatal incidents such as aircraft crashes, and did not want to apportion blame, but to prevent events from repeating themselves.

He said: “From the evidence I have obtained and presented to this inquest, I believe an investigation should be carried out by the coroner’s office.

“The CMS played a massive part in the state of mind of my son when he took his own life.

“I realise I will never see the people I hold responsible for my son’s death be brought to justice.

“Had the CMS done its job properly, the last year of Gavin’s life would not have been the same. I am trying to ensure this organisation doesn’t put people’s lives at risk.

“It’s the responsibility of the coroner’s court to ensure that any company that has made mistakes do not make these mistakes again.”

He added that he understands a report will be published soon, linking the CMS to 1,000 deaths a year, and would forward it to the coroner’s office.

Mr Pegg said the full inquest will hear evidence on how financial pressures, including arrears owed to the CMS; Hitachi, and the relationship with his partner, was affecting Gavin Briggs’ state of mind at the time of his death.

He told Mr Briggs’ father: “I have no power, it does not fall within my remit to investigate the figures presented to your son and required by him to pay, that is not my function.”

He added that until he had heard evidence, he could not judge the facts of the case, and was not empowered to investigate why Gavin Briggs had died, just how, where and when.

Mr Briggs said that he was “not happy” with the way the case was being dealt with, accusing the coroner of “picking and choosing what you need to hear”.

Mr Pegg denied this, saying that he “was not satisfied” with the submissions made by Mr Briggs.

He said: “It’s not my view, it’s what the law says.”

The hearing was then adjourned, with the full inquest to be heard on May 17 at Winchester Coroner’s Court.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Briggs' family and friends at this time. We have not been called by the Coroner to give evidence to this inquest, nor will it hear evidence about the Child Maintenance Service, but we will cooperate fully if we are called to do so."

The Department for Work and Pensions were contacted for further comment.