BIRMINGHAM PUB BOMBINGS 1974: SECURING FUNDING FOR LEGAL REPRESENTATION
KRW LAW LLP is instructed by eight families who have successfully secured a resumption of the inquests into the deaths of their loved ones in the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. We are now working with our colleague in Liverpool at Jackson Brodie Solicitors who are representing the family of Eugene and Desmond Reilly.
The Senior Corner for Birmingham and Solihull decided that she had power and jurisdiction to resume the inquests, that there was sufficient reasons to do so and that the resumed inquests should be conducted in a human rights compliant manner. This means that the families of the victims who made the application must be able to effectively participate in the resumed inquests. Effective Participation needs Legal Representation.
To date KRW LAW LLP and counsel have acted pro bono. This is no longer sustainable. Applications were made to the Legal Aid Agency and the Lord Chancellor and, following the decision on the 1st June, to the Home Secretary.
In a telephone call to Julie Hambleton, the sister of Maxine Hambleton, and in a letter to her and KRW LAW LLP, the Home Secretary expressed both her sympathy and support for the relatives of the victims. But she has decided not to offer funding along the lines provided to the families of the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster 1989. This is disappointing as the families of the Birmingham Pub Bombings victims only wanted parity with the Hillsborough families and this decision appears to be a continuing injustice.
Nevertheless, the Home Secretary pledged her support for an application to the Legal Aid Agency for legal aid to fund continuing legal representation at the inquests due commence in November. And that this application for legal aid should not be means tested. To this effect Amber Rudd has discussed the matter with her colleague Lynne Truss, the Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice. The Ministry of Justice fund the Legal Aid Agency.
The Legal Aid Agency is an independent statutory authority and there can be no direct political interference in its decision-making. However, its decisions can be – and will be if necessary – challenged in the courts.
KRW LAW LLP already has a channel of communication with the LAA which was opened before the 1st June decision to resume the inquests. That channel is now being pursued again but this time with a political pledge. What is required is written confirmation as soon possible before the November hearings that legal aid will be available to enable the families’ effective participation at the resumed inquests and that we can continue this important work on behalf of our clients.