published: 27 February 2019
Bereaved families and INQUEST have launched a campaign, Now or Never! Legal Aid for Inquests. This follows the decision by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to reject widely supported proposals and overwhelming evidence in favour of fair legal funding for bereaved people.
The campaign is calling for the government to reconsider this decision and urgently introduce automatic non-means tested legal aid funding to bereaved families following a state-related death. The detail of this proposal is outlined in a new briefing by INQUEST.
The launch event in parliament was chaired by the Rt Rev James Jones, former Bishop of Liverpool, whose report on the experiences of Hillsborough families is among the numerous supportive independent reviews.
Deborah Coles, Director of INQUEST said: “The power imbalance between bereaved families and the state is the most significant injustice of the coronial process. Removing the barriers to accessing legal representation will not only create a fairer and more just inquest system, it will protect lives.
“Every review and public inquiry that has considered these issues over the past 20 years has recommended that this injustice must be addressed. Yet the Ministry of Justice have disregarded the evidence and ignored the voices of bereaved families.
“INQUEST and the families we work with refuse to be silenced. We call on the government to act now and urgently introduce fair public funding for legal representation at inquests, to end this unequal playing field.”