Andy Burnham, the Shadow Home Secretary, is to call on the government to adopt a new law that would afford bereaved families the same resources as the police in future inquests.
The campaign comes after the families of the 96 Hillsborough victims had to raise the money to pay for their own legal representation at the earlier inquests in 1991, despite South Yorkshire Police having top legal representation. In the many years that followed, the families had to endure a long and distressing battle to find out the truth.
The Shadow Home Secretary has tabled an amendment to the policing and crime bill, to be debated in the House of Commons. It is aimed at helping families in similar situations in future by granting them legal aid equal to the cost of police spending on legal representation in the same proceedings.
The change is long overdue and it is well recognised that in many cases there is an inequality in arms at inquests with families often being left without legal representation due to funding only being available in exceptional circumstances. They are often left in a situation where the public authorities such as prisons, the police and hospital trusts have experienced legal teams representing their interests at a cost to the public purse, but families are expected to represent themselves with little to no understanding of the inquest process. This makes it almost impossible for families to participate effectively in the inquest process, a process that is meant to place them first and foremost at the heart of the coroner’s investigation.
In certain circumstances, Legal Aid is available for families who are faced with an inquest into the death of a loved one which will cover the cost of legal representation.
For more information or to speak to a solicitor about funding legal representation for an inquest, do not hesitate to call us today on 0845 287 0939. Alternatively, you can complete a contact form online and one of our inquest lawyers will respond to you as soon as possible.