Forces legal aid petition - the Government responce

The Government recognises the bravery and dedication shown daily by the Armed Forces out in the field of operations, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Government would like to pay tribute to the Service personnel who have lost their lives whilst on active service for their country.

The Government is sympathetic to the position of their families and recognises the strain that attending the inquests into the deaths of their relatives places upon them.

As an inquest is an inquiry concerned with the facts surrounding a death, rather than issues such as civil or criminal liability, legal aid is not generally available for representation at inquests. The proceedings are generally less formal than a court hearing. An inquest is a relatively informal inquisitorial process, rather than an adversarial one. An inquest cannot assign blame. It is the role of the Coroner to question witnesses and to elicit explanations as to the cause of death. It is also the responsibility of the Coroner to make sure that a family's questions are answered. An inquest is not a trial. There is no prosecution or defence, there are only interested persons and witnesses are not expected to present legal arguments. There is normally no need for anyone to be legally represented, although some of those involved will choose to be.

Typical politition speak for I don't give a fcuck about the troops :x
Their response was to be expected. There is no interest in this apart from families still waiting for inquests, and funding their representation themselves.

It has been discussed on Arrse before, and I am still of the opinion that families need to be represented.

Hopefully my sons inquest is not too far away now.
When this came up a year ago, the MoD had already spent £500,000 on their own legal representation at Inquests. Not a single penny to the families. Why do they need to spend this kind of money on the very best legal advice if it really is not necessary for the families??

No Government cash for families' lawyers at Hercules crash inquest

Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:21am BST 09/10/2006

The families of 10 servicemen killed in an RAF Hercules crash have been told that they will not receive any government money for legal fees during an inquest into the disaster.

Wives and relatives of the servicemen, who died in January 2005 when their C-130 transport aircraft was hit by an insurgent's missile in Iraq, want specialist lawyers to represent them. They believe the disaster could have been avoided if the aircraft had been properly equipped to fly into combat zones.

But it can be revealed that they have been refused any financial help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) towards legal representation at the inquest, despite the fact that over the past two years the MoD has paid lawyers almost £560,000 to represent the Government at 17 inquests into the deaths of servicemen between June 2004 and July 2006.
The people with the greatest interest, and therefore likely to ask the most searching questions, are the families of the deceased. Surely it is in the interests of justice to allow them legal representation to assist in formulating such inquisitorial assistance to the inquest?

Those with the most to lose, because either they or their allies (the Spams usually) MIGHT be shown up in a bad light, are those in the government of the day. Hence a reluctance to allow legal aid to assist those who might ask difficult questions.

In my view the government is simply trying to avoid as many difficult questions as possible. They are seeking to impede justice for their own political purposes, and its a total disgrace. Families should be represented.

As far as the overall cost is concerned, we are not talking about vast amounts from the public coffers, are we? Its simply a question of common decency to those who have lost relatives in the service of their country.

NOTE TO GORDON BROWN: If you or your researchers read this post kindly reconsider the pusillanimous response to the petition and do something positive for these poor, bereaved families.

Soldiersmum, I am sorry to hear about your own family's situation and wish you all the very best in your quest to find out and understand what happened to cause you to lose a beloved son.
I would like to know how much they have spent since, in the last 12 months. I think you have said it all with your question. Why is it necessary for them but not the families?

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