The prime minister has committed to ‘simplify’ the funding regime for legal aid for bereaved families in inquests. In response to a question by the Conservative MP Alex Chalk made in relation to two constituents who were relatives of one of the victims of the London Bridge attack, Theresa May said her government were ‘committed to simplifying the process for applying for exceptional case funding’.
Helen Boniface and Yasmin Waljee OBE of Hogan Lovells last week on the Justice Gap that argued that legal aid must be available as of right and raised the case of Kirsty Boden and Alexandre Pigeard. Alex Chalk also drew attention to Kirsty Boden. ‘Despite the fact that at least one of the terrorists’ families received legal aid for representation at the inquest, none of the victims’ families did,’ the MP for Cheltenham said during prime minister’s question time. ‘Does my right hon. Friend think that we need to look again at the entitlement to legal aid for inquests, so that those people who wish to ask questions about what happened to their loved ones are not left to fend for themselves?’
‘One of the many lessons to be learned though is that legal aid must be available as of right for bereaved families at terrorism inquests. Even though these inquests have just concluded, the Government has still not decided whether to grant bereaved families Legal Aid. The only thing they have said is that ‘the wider public interest is not served by families having representation’. This seems extraordinary. As both lawyers and engaging our innate humanity we cannot understand this.’
Helen Boniface and Yasmin Waljee OBE
More than 10,000 people have now signed up to a petition launched last weekcalling for legal aid for inquests launched by the Kirsty Boden’s partner James Hodder. You can sign here.