When hospitals, the police, local authorities or other offices of the State are involved in an inquest, they often have legal representation funded by the public purse. Yet the family suffering a bereavement, sometimes in the most terrible circumstances, is likely to be refused the same publicly-funded legal aid.
Without professional support at a coroner’s hearing, distressed relatives are likely to be seriously disadvantaged. They are completely unfamiliar with the process and could miss the opportunity to ask the right questions, or they may have to give evidence without any guidance.
Some high-profile cases have drawn attention to the plight of bereaved families and I have no doubt that there are readers who have experienced the unlevel playing field first-hand.
The Home Secretary's adviser on the Hillsborough disaster, the Right Reverend James Jones, has now said there is a "pressing need" for families to be represented. This cannot be yet another missed opportunity to address this injustice.
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)