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Legal Aid: Sexual Offences

Volume 506: debated on Friday 26 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will instruct legal aid providers to withdraw support from an individual in circumstances in which that individual presents a continuing threat to others, with particular reference to offences of paedophilia and rape. (317527)

Any individual charged with a criminal offence has the right to a fair trial, and is also entitled to legal aid if the interests of justice so require and if the relevant financial eligibility criteria are met.

The criteria governing eligibility for criminal legal aid take no account of whether or not the applicant has previously been convicted of a criminal offence. Nor do they allow for the withdrawal of legal aid if details of criminal offences committed by the applicant subsequently come to light.

The same principle applies to the civil legal aid, although exceptionally the applicant's past conduct may be taken into account if it has a direct relevance to the funding being sought.