Families face shocking injustice over legal aid for inquests, campaigners say

source: Express & Star
published: 1 October 2019

Grieving families are facing a “shocking” injustice when trying to get legal aid funding for the inquest of a loved one who died in state care, campaigners claims.

The ruling by Mr Justice Green enables relatives attending a coroner’s court to benefit from expert legal representation in cases where a state body is involved in a death.

Charities have called for an end to the disparity between the amount of publicly funded legal aid being provided to state bodies and families.

It comes as figures suggest mental health trusts, police forces and the prison service are spending millions of pounds on legal representation at inquests, in comparison to the thousands of pounds the Legal Aid Agency has given to bereaved families for such hearings over a similar period of time.

The figures form part of an investigation by BBC Radio 4’s File On 4 programme about families being denied legal aid.

The inquiry after someone has died in state care is intended to seek the truth and expose unsafe practices – yet families face multiple state lawyers, paid for at public expense, who frequently put defence of their interests above the search for the truth, the charity Inquest said.

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