Legal Voice: Second class citizens
Solicitors representing relatives of the 21 people killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings have claimed they are being ‘bounced into an agreement’ by the Government. The families had previously warned of a boycott of the inquest over the row about legal aid.
Belfast-based KRW Law has been acting free of charge for two years but have said they cannot continue to work pro bono when hearings begin on Monday. Julie Hambleton, who heads the Justice4the21 campaign group and lost her sister Maxine in the terrorist attacks (photo above), claimed the Government has treated the families ‘like second-class citizens’.
The families called for Hillsborough style funding but the Government said the families had to apply to the Legal Aid Agency. However, according to ITV, an issue has arisen ‘because the relatives’ lawyers are a Northern Ireland-based firm and the coroner’s court sits in a different legal jurisdiction – England and Wales’. The suggested solution has been for KRW to become the agent for Liverpool-based Broudie Jackson Canter which acted for some of the Hillsborough families. ‘But the Belfast-based solicitors have said neither law firm thinks that solution is feasible because of the sheer volume of work already invested in their clients,’ the Mail reported.
Christopher Stanley, from KRW, told BBC Radio WM, that his firm was exploring ‘kicking down the door’ by setting up an office in England.
In an interview over the weekend with the Guardian, Julie Hambleton accused the government of trying to ‘trying to do it on the cheap’. Why does she believe they are making it so difficult? She said that ‘they know their predecessors’ hands were dipped in blood. That they were aware that these bombings were going to happen. Our loved ones were cannon fodder. Imagine if people got to know that the government knew there were going to be terrorist attacks and didn’t step in to stop it… .’