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Legal Aid for families of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings

Yesterday I led a debate in Parliament calling for legal aid to be granted for the families of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings.

The families are contesting a ruling by the Coroner that suspects cannot be identified during the reopened Inquest into the Birmingham Pub Bombings. They won their case in the High Court. The Coroner has lodged an Appeal as he has every right to do. While the Corner will receive public funding to present his appeal however, the families are being denied Legal Aid to defend the judgement of the High Court.

The issue is a simple one. Why shouldn’t both sides be treated equally?

Irrespective of Party, speaker after speaker yesterday backed my call for equality of treatment. Unfortunately, this seemed to lost on Ministers who tried to washed their hands of responsibility, saying that the refusal of Legal Aid was all down to the Legal Aid Agency. They claimed that while Ministers are reviewing the rules for the future, they have no power to intervene now.

Sorry Government. That is not good enough. This case cannot wait. It needs sorting now. When families of victims of the Hillsborough families were refused Legal Aid for their legal representation, Minsters agreed to set up a special fund to cover their costs. They were right to do so. If Legal Aid is now not available to families of the Birmingham Fund Bombings victims, Ministers should set up a similar fund.

This is simply about fairness and parity. Justice demands no less.

You can watch my speech opening the debate below. You can also read the Hansard report of the whole debate here – https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-03-27/debates/F4B7AA6F-EBDA-4FEE-B313-4209986D66C2/LegalAidBirminghamPubBombings