The Ministry of Justice has been accused of betraying those campaigning to ensure an equality of arms between bereaved families and the state at inquests.
After reviewing the current legal aid availability, the Ministry laws week confirmed in its final Report that it will not introduce automatic legal aid when the state is represented.
The Ministry said
“Means testing serves to determine the allocation of tax payers money to those most in need. This mechanism upholds the wider policy intention of the existing legal aid statutory framework of ensuring that legal aid is targeted at those who need it most. For the most serious cases in which legal advice or representation is justified.”
Inquest, a campaign charity, had called for automatic non means tested legal aid funding to families for specialist representation immediately after a state related death to cover preparation and representation at the inquest and all other legal processes.
The Ministry said in its Report that is considered the issue “in great detail”.
It is also looking to explore further options for funding legal support where the state has funded representation adding that
“to do this, we work closely with other Government departments”.
Families will feel disappointed by this news for they will continue to face the same hurdles they did before with an array of Barristers against them at public hearings with them either having to represent themselves at a time when they will have to relive their grief or employ Solicitors or Barristers at their own cost to represent their best interests.