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Coroners: Armed Forces

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on which occasions public funding was made available to assist the legal representation of bereaved families at inquest proceedings relating to the deaths of service personnel in (a) 2006, (b) 2007 and (c) 2008; and what the cost to his Department was on each occasion. (294957)

Legal aid for representation is not usually available for inquests because an inquest is a fact-finding process and not adversarial. The Coroners system has been designed to function without the need for interested persons to be legally represented, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Exceptional legal aid funding can be granted by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on the recommendation of the Legal Services Commission (LSC) for representation at inquests, if the criteria are met.

In 2006 funding was granted on two occasions, totalling £32,541.65

In 2007 funding was granted on two occasions, totalling £37,089.78

In 2008 funding was granted on four occasions, totalling £80,496.83.

Case management is delegated to the LSC, so the final amounts agreed by the LSC may differ from the amount granted.

The MOJ has provided legal aid in every inquest into the deaths of service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan where the LSC has recommended it.