To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the costs of Mr Robert Toner's judicial review of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland's refusal of a postal vote as his middle name was absent from his application form was met through legal aid; and, if so, under what criteria it was decided the case would be funded; whether two counsel were engaged on his behalf; and under what rule the absence of his middle name was regarded by the Electoral Office as a reason to refuse his application. [HL4623]
Mr Toner was granted legal aid to bring a judicial review of the Electoral Office's decision. Mr Toner was granted funding for one counsel. As no case report has been submitted in respect of the judicial review proceedings the legal aid costs are not known. The statutory criteria involved in determining applications for civil legal aid, including judicial review proceedings, is whether:
the applicant satisfies the financial means test as set out in Article 9 of the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981; and
the applicant had shown reasonable grounds for taking, defending or being a party to proceedings and is it is reasonable in the particular circumstances of the case that legal aid be granted as set out in Article 10 of the 1981 order.
I cannot comment on the basis for the decision of the Electoral Office to refuse Mr Toner's application. My officials have, however, consulted with colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office who advise that Regulation 9 of the European Parliamentary Elections (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2004 sets out the requirements that must be met to ensure that an absent vote application is successful.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the costs of Mr Tiarnan O Muilleoir's judicial review of the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland not contacting him because his sister's national insurance number was on his postal vote application was met through legal aid; if so, under what criteria it was decided the case would be funded; and whether two counsel were engaged on his behalf. [HL4624]