The inquest into the Croydon tram crash that killed seven people and left 51 injured has been postponed until spring 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A 12-week hearing was due to begin on November 16.

The inquest at Croydon's Fairfield Halls was expected to hear arguments that human error and safety failings contributed to the accident on November 9, 2016.

Courts are exempt from England's national four-week coronavirus lockdown, but Sarah Ormond-Walshe, senior coroner for south London, decided it is "likely that a hearing of this size can be conducted much more safely in spring 2021".

She said: "In my judgment, it is not so essential that we proceed now rather than in, say, March/April 2021, that I should unnecessarily increase the risk to the health of participants.

"I understand the desire of all participants, and especially the families of the deceased, to progress these inquests to a conclusion as soon as reasonably practicable."

The hearing was initially due to begin on October 19, but was postponed due to the rise in coronavirus cases in London.

Ben Posford, partner at London law firm Osbornes Law, which is representing the families of five of the seven victims, said: "Understandably the families are frustrated and upset by this latest postponement.

"Coming so near to the fourth anniversary of the tragedy on 9 November makes it even harder to bear.

"They sincerely hope the inquest can start without interruption in the spring."

Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, and Robert Huxley, 63, all from New Addington, and Mark Smith, 35, and Donald Collett, 62, both from Croydon, were killed in the crash.

The tram came off the tracks at almost four times the speed limit in darkness and heavy rain.

It was alleged that the driver, Alfred Dorris, had drifted into a "microsleep".

Mr Dorris was arrested at the scene but charges of gross negligence and manslaughter were later dropped by British Transport Police.

No charges of corporate manslaughter were brought against Transport for London or operator Tram Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of FirstGroup.

A pre-inquest review held in September heard that Mr Dorris would be unable to attend the inquest as he was "unwell".