THE BIRMINGHAM PUB BOMBINGS 1974: THE PRESENT FUNDING SITUATION
KRW LAW LLP is instructed by eight of the families of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 in the resumed inquests into the deaths of their loved ones.
This week we congratulate J4the21, the campaign group which includes our clients, on winning the Liberty Human Rights ‘Long Walk’ Award. We attended the Awards Ceremony with our clients in London and it was proud and moving occasion marked by a strong expression of solidarity. ITV 26 10 2016
Simultaneously in the House of Commons, Jess Phillips MP opened an Adjournment Debate on the topic of public funding for legal representation of the relatives of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 with a powerful speech which was greeted with widespread cross-party support. Jess Phillips and other MPs pressed the government to ensure there was parity of funding for our clients similar to that provided to the relatives of the victims of the Hillsborough Disaster 1989 and – importantly – with those state agencies that will be parties to the resumed inquests.
Responding to the debate, Home Office Minister Sir Oliver Heald noted:
“What is important is that there should be an element of equality of arms in the sense that the work that needs to be done for the families should be done effectively and in accordance with the funding arrangements put in place by the Legal Aid Agency …. The issue is not so much whether the funding is through the legal aid fund or through a Hillsborough-type approach as the fact that the families should be represented if the case requires. That is the system we are trying to create.” (Hansard 26 10 2016)
Whilst the Legal Aid Agency has offered our clients an ‘open door’ to continued negotiations regarding the provision of funding to them to enable them to instruct a law firm from Northern Ireland, they maintain that parity of funding with other interested parties should be made available to them. Commentators on the statement of the Home Office Minister noted that there can be no ‘partial’ equality of arms. The West Midlands Police have set aside £1million from council tax funds to be represented at the resumed inquests. ITV 23 06 2016
KRW have requested the Coroner to vacate the two deadlines of today and next month which are to provide him with written and oral submissions on the scope and form of the resumed inquests until the question of public funding is resolved to the satisfaction of our clients and their supporters.