Saturday, 21 June 2014

Story Ninety Four - Legal Funding

One of the many vile things the Ryan family have had to encounter since LB's death is the dreadful inequality in legal funding. In order to be represented at the crucial inquest, the family have been scrambling around fundraising to meet their costs. In the meantime, Southern Health, Oxford CCG, and all the other public bodies involved can draw on seemingly unlimited public funds to secure their legal representation. That stinks worse than a mound of frothing pig shit.

In our case, Hillingdon were consulting their lawyers from the very start. I guess that's the way with LAs these days - their legal departments are the key players in their day to day business. We've seen many cases over the last few years, where LA managers must have gone to their legal teams and asked: "Can we get away with this?"

In the court records, there are emails from the social worker or the Unit manager to the legal department asking for advice or seeking affirmation that their plans were legal.

At the demonstration in August, one of the supporters approached a woman who announced that she was from the legal section. My friend was shocked by two things: her certainty in her rightness and her willingness to smear Steven and me. At one point, she laughed and said: "This will never come to court. The family are on a hiding to nothing".

I've written in earlier posts about the five month battle to get legal representation and how many blind alleys we went down. It was also incredible how misinformed people in the legal profession were about funding and DOLs. Finally getting Chris the giant was a complete fluke.

Why am I bringing this up again? Well, after the February hearing, we were told that because Justice Jackson had terminated the DOL, my access to legal aid stopped. We were mid hearing - there was still the May week long inquiry to deal with but my legal support was over. Thankfully, Steven was still entitled to be represented by the OS but for me, I had to say goodbye to Chris and Amanda. I was left with the choice of either just appearing as a witness for the OS, or to be a litigant in person. (More about that decision in the next post).

Since the case, there have been two FOI requests to Hillingdon (not from me), asking for a breakdown of the costs of the case. They have never satisfactorily answered. They never costed the full cost of their in house legal support. So, I have no idea how much the ratepayers of Hillingdon coughed up to fund Hillingdon's case. But it must have been an absolute fortune.

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