Calls for equality at Inquests are getting louder. Bereaved families get little or no help from the State.
In 2017, the Ministry of Justice spent 4.2 million on legal representation for the Prison and Probation service at Inquests but grieving families received just £92,000 through Legal Aid Agency Exceptional Case Funding.
Disappointingly, the MOJ confirmed in February that it will not introduce automatic legal aid for families in cases where the state is represented.
On the one hand, state bodies and representatives are equipped with access to unlimited funds and resources. On the other hand, vulnerable families in the mist of grief are forced to navigate a complex and alien approach process that is provided with the bare minimum support. Most people have not received that or know how to access it.
The Government relies on the argument that an Inquest should be a inquisitorial process.
For example, no parties legal representation at a forthcoming hearing inquest over the 2015 air show crash will not be covered by the State.
An application for Exceptional Case Funding was refused by the Legal Aid Agency because they said it was not within scope and did not represent the wider public interest. The question is if the air crash didn’t what will it take?
There are moves afoot to try to persuade the Ministry to reconsider its decision not to introduce automatic legal aid but at the moment the inequality still exists.