Why grieving families need legal representation at an inquest

Merry Varney - 06 December 2018

Contrary to what the UK government say, many bereaved families need legal representation at an inquest to ensure a full and fearless investigation into the death of their loved one.

In 2013 Nicholas Harry's baby boy Sam, was killed. The police stated that either Sam’s mother Deanne, or her then partner Ryan were responsible. But they both denied it and blamed the other one. There was no other evidence so the criminal investigation came to a halt.

Because Sam’s death was ‘unnatural’, in the absence of any criminal prosecution, the Coroner was obliged to hold an inquest into Sam’s death to establish how he died. In Nicholas’ words, “the inquest was my final chance of any sort of justice….this was my only chance to get answers”.

Despite this, and although bereaved families are supposed to be at the heart of inquest proceedings, legal aid is not routinely available so, unless they have the funds to pay for a lawyer, they will often not be legally represented.... See more

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