Legal Aid for Inquests — [Mrs Anne Main in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Opposition Whip (Commons) 2:30 pm, 10th April 2019

My hon. Friend gets to the heart of this debate. The process is far too complex, and those who apply for legal aid are forced to run up huge legal bills on their own, represent themselves in court or rely on the generosity of strangers to help raise the required funds. Often, people have to tackle complex legal processes that involve multiple interested persons and agencies. Among a host of other complicated legal matters, people must address issues such as access to and release of a body, post mortems, communication with investigation teams, securing evidence and criminal investigations. Most people do not have the legal knowledge to do those things, and many do not have the resources to help. I ask the Minister: is that fair?

We are talking about the death of a child in a mental health setting—a death as a result of neglectful state services, or the self-inflicted death of a prisoner. The families of those lost feel a deep sense of pain. This debate is about deaths in state detention and custody, or where there is a clear public interest element to finding out the truth—for example, the Grenfell tragedy, the disaster at Hillsborough, or the recent case of Molly Russell who tragically took her own life in part, her parents believe, because of distressing material related to depression and suicide that she was able easily to access on social media platforms.