Coroner's Inquest into the London Bombings

Forum for discussion and observations regarding the 7 July 2005 inquest proceedings. See also the dedicated J7: 7/7 Inquests Blog for analysis and summaries of the proceedings: http://77inquests.blogspot.com/
and the official Inquests web site: Coroner's Inquest into the London Bombings of 7 July 2005.

Coroner's Inquest into the London Bombings

Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

02 Mar 2010, 12:26 #1

The Official Coroner's Inquest web site is up and running: Coroner's Inquests into the London Bombings of the 7 July 2005
The Right Honourable Lady Justice Hallett D.B.E. has been appointed as Assistant Deputy Coroner for Inner West London for the purposes of hearing the Inquests into the deaths resulting from the London Bombings on the 7 July 2005.

The purpose of this website is to keep the public informed of details relating to the Inquests, including transcripts of the proceedings.

What's new

26 February 2010

Hearing on 25 February 2010

    * Order by Dame Heather Hallett, Assistant Deputy Coroner (PDF 58kb)
    * Transcript of hearing

1 February 2010
The first Directions hearing will take place on 25 February 2010 at 2:00pm at the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL.
Public meetings, sitting days and witnesses

All proceedings will take place in the Royal Courts of Justice, London unless stated in the table below.

Hearing dates are set out in the table below:
Current proceedings:

Date                          Nature of Proceedings                      Start Time

Week 1
25 February 2010
  Directions hearing – to timetable the provision of submissions on whether the Inquests should be resumed and other legal issues that arise.  2pm
26/28 April 2010  Pre-inquest review – to hear submissions on whether the Inquests should be resumed and, if so, their scope; to identify properly Interested Persons and deal with other issues arising.
I suggest that this new thread is used for discussion of what appears on the official web site and that the original Inquests thread be used for general discussion of the coverage of the inquests.

The transcript of last week's proceedings is too long to fit into a single forum post and will need to be split. Previous high profile inquests (JCdM, Diana) have however also issued transcripts as PDF documents and one would hope that the same will apply to the long overdue 7 July Inquests.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

02 Mar 2010, 12:36 #2

Order by Dame Heather Hallett, Assistant Deputy Coroner
IN THE INNER WEST LONDON (WESTMINSTER) CORONER’S COURT
_____________________________________________
ORDER
_____________________________________________
On 25 February 2010 before Dame Heather Hallett, Assistant Deputy Coroner:

IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. Any survivor who wants to apply to be designated as a properly interested person pursuant to rule 20(2)(h) of the Coroners Rules 1984 to file written submissions with the Solicitor to the Inquests by 4pm on 11 March 2010.

2. Any other person who considers that, if the inquests are resumed, they would be designated as a properly interested person pursuant to rule 20(2)(a) – (g) of the Coroners Rules 1984 shall write to the Solicitor to the Inquests setting out the ground upon which they consider they are so designated by 4pm on 1 April 2010.

3. No documents, including the reports prepared by the Coroner’s Officers, shall be disclosed to any person unless the Solicitor to the Inquests has received a signed and dated confidentiality undertaking in the prescribed form attached. Any person seeking disclosure of any documents, including the reports prepared by the Coroner’s Officers, shall send the Solicitor to the Inquests a signed and dated confidentiality undertaking.

4. The disclosure of the Coroner’s Officers’ reports as to the four scenes shall be as follows:

(a) Each family of the deceased will receive disclosure of the chapter relating to their relative, and any generic chapters of the relevant scene report, prior to any other person and / or party.

(b) Seven days following disclosure of the relevant chapters to the families of the deceased as set out in paragraph 3(a), all chapters and / or remaining chapters of the reports will be disclosed to all persons and / or parties.

© The families of the deceased are to notify the Solicitor to the Inquests in writing whether they would like the reports to be disclosed to them via the Family Liaison Officers, Contact Officers, Legal Representatives or electronically by 4pm on 1 April 2010.

5. All persons / parties to file written submissions for the hearing on 26 – 28 April 2010 on the following issues:
(i) Resumption of the Inquests;
(ii) Joinder of the Inquests;
(iii) Scope of the Inquests;
(iv) Jury;
(v) Applications to be designated as Properly Interested Persons pursuant to section 20(2)(h) of the Coroners Rules 1984.

The written submissions are to be filed with the Solicitor to the Inquests by 4pm on 16 April 2010.

6. The Solicitor to the Inquests to serve all written submissions received on all persons / parties by 4pm on 21 April 2010.
7. There shall be a further Pre-Inquest Review on 26 April 2010 commencing at 10.30am with a time estimate of 3 days.

UNDERTAKING TO THE COURT
I [NAME] hereby provide the following undertaking to Lady Justice Hallett DBE in her capacity as Assistant Deputy Coroner of Inner West London (“the Coroner”) for the inquests arising out of the deaths occurring following the London bombings on 7th July 2005.

I undertake to:

1. keep safe all documentation provided to me and/or my representatives by the Coroner, her officers and legal team, (whether it is provided to me /my representatives in hard copy, in electronic form or otherwise) and not to leave documentation unattended other than at a secure location;
2. keep all such documentation confidential;
3. only use such documentation for the purposes of these inquests and any directly related legal proceedings;
unless and until it is called in to evidence during the inquest proceedings at which point that part of the document in question which has been put in to evidence shall be treated as having been made public.

In giving this undertaking I understand that I may only disclose any such documentation to, and discuss it with, the inquest team and/or other people who have given identical undertakings to the Coroner. These people may include my own legal representatives and members of my family. I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to ensure that any such person has given such an undertaking before discussing and/or disclosing such a document to them.

I understand that breach of this undertaking constitutes contempt of court.

I also understand that, if I wish to be released from this undertaking, I may apply in writing to the Solicitor to the Inquests, setting out the reasons for my request.


Signed ………………………………………………………… Dated ……………………………………………………





Name / Organisation ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….
Formatted as per the original. The bold "I understand" is interesting as it provides a commitment to under-standing the rules of the court, or put more informatively: Standing under the authority of the court. See this video of an arrest of an amateur photographer for the understanding/standing under authority conflict.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

02 Mar 2010, 12:44 #3

More information on the "interested persons" aspect: Coroner's Inquests into the London Bombings of the 7 July 2005: Interested persons and their legal representatives
Interested persons and their legal representatives

A number of people are entitled to ask relevant questions of witnesses at an inquest hearing, so long as they persuade the Coroner that they are one of the following:

    * a parent, spouse, child, partner and representing the estate of the deceased;
    * anyone who gains from a life insurance policy on the deceased;
    * any insurer having issued such a policy;
    * anyone whose actions the Coroner believes may have caused or contributed to the death, accidentally or otherwise;
    * the chief officer of police (who may only ask witnesses questions through a lawyer);
    * any person appointed by a government department to attend the inquest;

In addition, any other person may seek to persuade the Coroner they have a proper interest in the inquest proceedings and, if the Coroner agrees, they too may question witnesses.

Anyone the Coroner designates as entitled to question witnesses is called an Interested Person.

The Coroner will hear submissions from those who wish to be registered as an interested person at the pre-inquest review hearings. If you consider yourself to have a proper interest in the inquest proceedings and wish to explore whether you can be designated an Interested Person, and have not already been contacted by us direct, please email Martin Smith to register your interest.

The Inquest

Legal team
:

Mr Hugo Keith QC, Mr Andrew O’Connor and Mr Benjamin Hay Counsel to the Inquest, instructed by Mr Martin Smith, Partner, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, Solicitor to the Inquests.

Secretariat:

Judy Anckorn
Secretary to the Inquests and responsible for all administrative and logistical arrangements. She is assisted by Lale Ozdemir
This is probably not the thread to get into what the legal definition of "person" might be.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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Joined: 25 Nov 2005, 11:41

02 Mar 2010, 13:21 #4

Hugo Keith, Coroner's Inquests into the London Bombings of the 7 July 2005:
18 May I, madam, turn back to the question of the four
19 initial scene reports?
20 As I've said, it's intended that, prior to the April
21 hearing, copies of reports dealing with each of the four
22 incidents will be made available to all potential
23 properly interested persons. Each of the reports will
24 cover a single incident; that is one each for Aldgate,
25 Edgware Road, Kings Cross and Tavistock Square.

12

1 The reports are being prepared by the
2 Metropolitan Police acting in their role as your
3 independent officers. The reports are, of course, being
4 seen in draft by Mr Smith and by Counsel to the Inquest
5 for the purposes of discussing general issues such as
6 the appropriate structure and the broad scope of the
7 reports. But may I say something in relation to those
8 reports?
9 It's important to observe that those reports are
10 prepared and are being prepared solely to provide all
11 potentially properly interested persons with a common
12 but provisional foundation upon which they can in part
13 base their legal arguments.
They will of course serve
14 to highlight the broad factual areas which may in due
15 course be worthy of further detailed investigation, but
16 they are not to be taken, we would ask, as being agreed
17 evidence or as necessarily indicating the views of the
18 legal team to the inquest.

19 They are based solely on evidence, or will be based
20 solely on evidence, which the police have obtained in
21 the course of their own investigations.
22 That evidential base, madam, as you know, is
23 enormous and runs to tens of thousands of witness
24 statements and exhibits, and, therefore, it's hoped that
25 the reports will provide a convenient and easy way of

13

1 indicating a starting point for the evidential
2 investigations and the legal arguments.
3 Of course, there are many other sources of
4 information, many of which are already known to the
5 inquest team.
6 It seems to us that, should the decision be taken by
7 you to resume some or all of the inquests, that you are
8 very likely to wish to call evidence beyond that which
9 has been obtained by the police and which may have its
10 genesis in those other evidential sources.
11 The reports which will be served in due course will
12 be divided into various sections dealing with issues
13 such as the movements of the apparent bombers on the
14 morning of 7 July, the explosions and the responses.

15 Each report will also contain individual sections
16 containing the principal evidence relating to each of
17 those who died at the relevant scene. I will say
18 a little bit more about those sections in a moment.
19 There will be maps, plans and schedules exhibited to
20 the reports but, if I may emphasise, no photographs.
21 The police hold a large number of photographs of the
22 different scenes, but many of them are, of course,
23 extremely distressing. Should the inquests resume, it
24 is likely to be necessary to make use of some
25 photographs, but they will, of course, as you would

14

1 expect, be handled sensitively and it is simply not
2 intended that this will be generally disclosed at any
3 stage.
4 As I have said, the four reports are designed, or
5 will be designed, to be a starting point.

6 After the hearing in April, if a decision to resume
7 the inquests is taken, other material documents will be
8 made available. As well as the photographs that I have
9 mentioned, there will be CCTV footage and other reports
10 that the police will be asked to prepare, such as the
11 activities of the apparent bombers in the weeks and
12 months before 7 July.
13 The nature and extent, however, of that further
14 material will be heavily influenced by your decisions in
15 due course as to the scope of the inquests.
16 I have already said that the intention is to make
17 each of these reports available to potentially properly
18 interested persons in advance of the hearing, but I hope
19 it will be of assistance if I give a little more detail
20 about when those reports are likely to be circulated.
21 The reports have been drafted by different groups of
22 police officers and will, therefore, not all be
23 finalised simultaneously. The intention is that each
24 report will be made available as and when it's ready.
25 There are two important caveats that I will come

15

1 back to in a moment, but the provisional chronology is
2 that the Edgware Road report is likely to be the first
3 of the reports to be finalised and it probably will be
4 ready for circulation at around about the first two
5 weeks of March.
6 The second report is likely to be the Aldgate
7 report. It's likely to be ready for circulation
8 mid-March.
9 Tavistock Square, late March, and Kings Cross in
10 early April. Of course, the provisional chronology is
11 designed to ensure that all four reports are disclosed
12 in advance of the April hearings and that there is
13 sufficient time for those reports to be digested.

14 Subject to the two caveats that I have already
15 mentioned, and which I will return to in a moment, it is
16 intended that the reports will be provided to properly
17 interested persons or, if they are represented, to their
18 representatives when they may become available.
"The problem with always being a conformist is that when you try to change the system from within, it's not you who changes the system; it's the system that will eventually change you." -- Immortal Technique

"The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses." -- Malcolm X

"The eternal fight is not many battles fought on one level, but one great battle fought on many different levels." -- The Antagonist

"Truth does not fear investigation." -- Unknown
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Joined: 24 Jan 2006, 22:57

03 Mar 2010, 15:20 #5

25 February 2010 - Afternoon session

Max Hill, representing the Metropolitan Police:
19 Is there any other legal representative who wishes
20 to make submissions? Yes, Mr Hill?
21 Submissions by MR HILL
22 MR HILL: Madam, may I, on behalf of the
23 Metropolitan Police
, just make two or three
24 observations?
25 The first is that the family liaison officers, who

53

1 are obviously part of the Metropolitan Police Service,
2 remain in place as a dedicated team. They were put in
3 place to assist the bereaved and the survivors. They
4 have never been uniquely in place to assist the
5 bereaved, but their function encompasses the survivors
6 or any who wish to use their services.
7 Having been in place intensively, if I may put it
8 that way, between July and November 2005, they have
9 remained in place and they are still a dedicated team
10 headed by a senior officer, available to assist any and
11 all, at whatever stage, and to the extent that it
12 assists in disclosure and dissemination of material, can
13 I underline the availability of the family liaison
14 officer team, if that assists you, madam, Mr Smith and
15 his team?
16 Secondly, with an eye to Mr O'Connor's submissions,
17 can I say this: that whilst it is not a matter for the
18 Metropolitan Police to disclose to either bereaved or
19 survivors, or their representatives, the scene reports,
20 it is the Metropolitan Police Service who are compiling
21 the reports, and so I do speak obviously from a position
22 of knowledge as to what they encompass and what they
23 include.
24 Can I say that the timetable for the service of the
25 four reports has been arrived at in very close

54

1 cooperation with Mr Smith.  [Martin Smith, Partner, Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, Solicitor to the Inquests]
The reports were underway in
2 terms of their compilation, in fact, before the inquest
3 team office opened, but since it has opened, we have
4 taken guidance and instruction on the manner in which
5 the reports are to be compiled and we have been able to
6 arrive at an agreed timetable so that everybody who
7 wishes will have available to them all four of the
8 reports before the principal submissions in April.
9 It will come as no surprise to anybody here that
10 each and every one of the four reports includes
11 a summary at the very least of the accounts given, many
12 of them representing very brave interventions by the
13 survivors at all four scenes, and I say that because we
14 do not take, on behalf of the Metropolitan Police, the
15 restrictive view of the draft directions that
16 Mr O'Connor seemed to take perhaps only at first blush.
17 Whilst we recognise that onward disclosure by your
18 team, madam, will be to the bereaved families severally
19 first, it seems to us that the directions clearly
20 envisage disclosure, to use the phrase, to all persons
21 and/or parties, and for what it is worth, and for the
22 assistance that it gives, the Metropolitan Police
23 absolutely agrees that any survivor who is represented
24 at these proceedings and who wishes to have sight of
25 these reports, after the bereaved families, should have

55

1 sight of those reports, including, as they do, accounts
2 that the survivors themselves provided by way of
3 statements shortly after the events themselves.
4 LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: You said "any survivors represented".
5 Presumably you mean any survivors.
6 MR HILL: Yes, I should correct that, you are right to take
7 me up on it. Subject to the undertaking on
8 confidentiality which we have seen, we haven't drafted
9 it, but we have seen, which we agree, we would say
10 anybody who signs that undertaking should be entitled to
11 see in proper sequence these reports.
12 That leads me to this, because we don't see any
13 difficulty in disclosure, we don't see, for what it is
14 worth, that in fact you, madam, need to determine status
15 as interested person today in order that anybody here
16 today or not can make submissions on resumption and
17 scope. In fact, we would put it the other way round and
18 we would say that you and your team may welcome
19 submissions on principle, guided by the core material,
20 without necessarily having made a formal ruling on
21 interested person status until the end of the April
22 hearing.
23 I say that in the hope that it is of some
24 assistance.
25 We would finally observe this, with an eye to

56

1 Mr Saunders' submissions. I have given a very obvious
2 indication of what the scene reports are going to
3 include, distressing though much of the content is, as
4 you yourself have observed, but it does seem to us that
5 submissions on principle -- whether limited to
6 resumption or wider than that to scope as well -- can be
7 drafted by all teams, even in advance of sight of the
8 reports, and what we have in mind in particular -- and
9 it's been touched on already -- are the Intelligence and
10 Security Committee reports of 2006 and 2009, which are
11 public documents, and we would envisage that all parties
12 would wish to have a very close eye to the content of
13 those reports in drafting those submissions
. [Shouldn't the facts speak for themselves?]
14 Can I finally say this? We are not, the
15 Metropolitan Police, the holders of those reports and in
16 the same way that it is not for us to disclose scene
17 reports
, it is for us to provide them to your team for
18 you to decide about onward disclosure. Similarly, it is
19 not for us to make representations about who has access
20 to the ISC reports.
21 We have raised in correspondence with Mr Smith the
22 question of whether, going forward from today, there
23 will be any correspondence, liaison, communication,
24 between you or your office and the committee itself, who
25 are still themselves the holders of their own reports.

57

1 But can I make it clear, I hope appropriately, that we
2 don't regard that as part of our function. For the time
3 being, therefore, we have our copies of the publicly
4 presented reports and we would envisage using them to
5 make what we hope will be helpful submissions in
6 opening.
7 LADY JUSTICE HALLETT: Thank you very much, Mr Hill.

Code: Select all

http://7julyinquests.independent.gov.uk/hearing_transcripts/25022010pm.htm
In some ways she was far more acute than Winston, and far less susceptible to Party propaganda. Once when he happened in some connection to mention the war against Eurasia, she startled him by saying casually that in her opinion the war was not happening. The rocket bombs which fell daily on London were probably fired by the Government of Oceania itself, "just to keep the people frightened." -- George Orwell, 1984
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Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

07 Apr 2010, 13:57 #6

What's new

18 March 2010
A pre-inquest hearing is scheduled for 26 April. The current time estimate for this hearing is 3 days. It is hoped that this time estimate will be sufficient to deal with the various issues however arrangements are in place to continue the hearing on 29 and 30 April if necessary.

Please note that seating in the court room is limited; priority will be given to potentially interested persons who notify the inquest office in advance that they wish to attend, with some seating being reserved, and allocation of remaining seats will be on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

Should the inquests be resumed and further pre-inquest hearings be required, court facilities have been reserved on the following the dates: 22 to 25 June and 12 to 16 July.
"No one understood better than Stalin that the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade, but to produce a uniform pattern of public utterance in which the first trace of unorthodox thought immediately reveals itself as a jarring dissonance." Leonard Schapiro
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Joined: 06 Nov 2006, 17:39

13 Apr 2010, 21:22 #7

Legal aid funding for families of 7/7 victims announced

03 March 2010

The Ministry of Justice has today announced that legal aid funding will be provided to all families of those who died in the 7/7 bombings who request it.

The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has made an in principle decision to provide funding, for representation at the inquests, given the exceptional circumstances. He has also agreed to waive the means test in these cases and applicants will not be required to provide means information.

The Ministry of Justice has also set-up a dedicated service to deal with funding requests from the relatives of the victims of the 7/7 bombings to provide a single point of contact, at the Legal Services Commission (LSC), for all those wishing to apply for funding for legal representation at the inquests.

Notes to editors:

1. Media enquiries: contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.
2. Applications must be made via a solicitor to the LSC. For enquiries about the application process please contact the LSC press office on 0207 783 7000.
3. All decisions as to the make up and size of the legal teams representing the families of 7 July victims have been delegated to the LSC, as have decisions concerning case planning and payment rates.

Code: Select all

http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/newsrelease030310b.htm
Jack Straw announces legal aid funding for survivors of 7/7 attack

10 March 2010

The Ministry of Justice has today announced that legal aid funding will be provided to survivors of the 7/7 bombings.

The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, has made an in principle decision to provide funding for a legal team to represent the survivors.

Funding will be provided to allow survivors to make representations to Lady Justice Hallett, the assistant deputy coroner, that they should be ‘properly interested persons’ at the inquests and therefore able to question witnesses and to receive copies of documents. Funding for representation will also be provided for those survivors whom the coroner recognises as ‘interested persons’.

Notes to editors

1. Media enquiries: Contact Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.
2. Applications must be made via a solicitor to the Legal Services Commission. For enquiries about the application process please contact the Legal Services Commission press office on 020 7783 7000.

Code: Select all

http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/newsrelease100310c.htm
I presume that inquest hearings aren't covered by the legal aid announcement and that if it's decided not to resume the inquest the families and survivors won't receive legal aid to challenge the decision. Since they are an 'in principle decision' does that mean that they can be rescinded by the new Government after the elections, if the inquests were resumed?

Coincidently, the first announcement coincided with the decision to replace the Legal Services Commission
Ministers axe Legal Services Commission to wrest back control of legal aid budget

• Executive agency politicises legal aid, say critics
• Chief executive Carolyn Regan resigns immediately

Afua Hirsch, legal affairs correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 3 March 2010 18.24 GMT

The body in charge of the £2.1bn legal aid budget is to be abolished after 10 years , as part of radical changes to the way lower-income people access justice, ministers announced today.

The Legal Services Commission, which distributes civil and criminal legal aid, will be replaced by an executive agency in a move to regain control of government spending on legal aid.

"The legal aid budget is a significant amount designed to help people when they are their most vulnerable," said the justice secretary, Jack Straw. "It is now the right time to make some meaningful changes that will help us protect and sustain the world-class legal aid service that we are so proud to deliver."

The legal aid minister, Lord Bach, said: "We think it is important to act before the election … to improve legal aid by strengthening governance and establishing a more rigorous approach."

The announcement prompted concerns that giving the government control of the legal aid service would violate human rights and jeopardise the independence of legal services.

"My concern is that this is a complete politicisation of legal aid administration. There is going to be no semblance of independence," said Steve Hynes, director of the Legal Action Group. "An executive agency pretty much does what its ministers say it will. This is not just about justice but also the appearance of justice."

Abolition is in response to a report published today by a senior civil servant, Sir Ian Magee. It was commissioned by ministers last year amid concerns the LSC was failing to deliver value for money.

The commission has been hit by a series of damning reports, including a report by the Commons public accounts committee in February. The National Audit Office last year raised serious questions about the handling of legal aid by the commission. The government was forced to scrap flagship proposals for "best-value tendering" to buy criminal legal aid services from law firms at competitive prices after months of uncertainty about how firms would budget.

The government denied the changes reflected failings of the LSC, but confirmed that the chief executive, Carolyn Regan, had resigned with immediate effect.

"Carolyn Regan has announced her resignation to allow for new leadership during a time of change for the organisation," said Bach. "She has seen the LSC through some very difficult reforms and we thank her for that."

The government said it expected support from opposition parties for primary legislation and denied the changes would politicise legal aid.

"I want to make it very clear that we consider it essential that there is a clear separation between ministers and funding decisions in individual cases," Bach said.

Source
Review into delivery of legal aid

13 October 2009

The Ministry of Justice has announced a review into the delivery of legal aid.

The review is to ensure that the £2.1 billion currently spent on legal aid every year is delivering best value for money, providing a healthy and sustainable future for social welfare law and effectively integrating the criminal defence service with the criminal justice system.

To conduct the review, the government has invited Sir Ian Magee to assess the delivery and governance arrangements of the legal aid system and make recommendations to:

* explore the separation of the Criminal Defence Service (CDS) and Community Legal Service (CLS) and options for doing so effectively and efficiently should that be the recommended way forward
* provide for effective and transparent financial management of both funds and their administration
* provide for effective ministerial accountability and policy direction in respect of both the CDS and CLS, while continuing to ensure that every application to the CLS and CDS funds are decided fairly, within the criteria, at arm’s length from government
* identify appropriate delivery models for both the CDS and CLS and their relationship with the ministry.

Legal Aid Minister Willy Bach said:

‘It is ten years since the Legal Services Commission was established and in that time there has been considerable changes in the type of legal advice and services that the public needs. We have put a much stronger focus on ensuring that the people who need help most – the vulnerable in our society – have access to justice, particularly in the area of social welfare law.

‘I believe now is the right time to review the channels through which legal aid is delivered to ensure that we are getting the best value for taxpayers’ money. It’s also a good time re-examine the best ways to deliver this vital service to ensure a healthy future for legal aid.

‘The UK has one of the most generous legal aid schemes in the world and the government is committed to ensuring legal aid is prioritised effectively so that more people are able to access it to resolve their legal problems. In the current climate, it is even more important that this public money is managed efficiently and effectively.’

Legal Aid costs per head of population in England and Wales run at £38 per head compared with £30 in Scotland and the following in comparable common law countries: £8 in the Republic of Ireland, £5 in Canada, £8 in New Zealand and £9 in Australia.

Expenditure on the Criminal Defence Service has risen from £873 million to £1.2 billion and the Community Legal Service from £719 million to £914 million over the past nine years.

The review will consider whether the separation of the Criminal Defence Service and Community Legal Service legal aid budgets will provide clearer responsibilities and accountabilities. It will also look at how to ensure that resources are focused on priorities and the CDS plays its role in delivering an efficient and effective criminal justice system.

Sir Ian Magee said:

‘I am pleased that I have been asked to review the delivery of this key public service and to make recommendations on its structure and governance. Naturally, I will be consulting a range of interested parties, including the judiciary, the legal profession and the relevant public bodies who play a part in the delivery of legal aid. If, however, anyone would like to submit their observations to me directly, they should write to me at the Ministry of Justice.’

Sir Ian Magee will report back to government in January.

In addition to this review, the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Services Commission are reviewing the current finance and governance frameworks to ensure that where there are any potential opportunities for immediate improvement, these are taken forward without delay.

Individuals and organisations interested in providing input into the Magee Review can do so via email

Notes to editors

1. Media enquiries: contact Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.

2. Sir Ian Magee CB: Until 2005, Ian Magee was Second Permanent Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Head of Profession for Operational Delivery for the whole Civil Service. He has been a CEO of three different Executive Agencies. Ian was a member of the Capability Review team for the Cabinet Office.

Ian is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Government, a senior adviser to Booz and Company, and a non-executive Director of the Live Group plc.

Ian conducted a review of criminality information for the Home Secretary, published in July 2008. He has a special interest in public sector leadership, is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, and a Fellow of the Sunningdale Institute.

3. Costs per head for ‘legal aid’ are shown as much lower in most mainland European systems but their costs are not comparable with common law countries because the systems are so different and many costs attributed to legal aid in common law jurisdictions are subsumed within the total costs of judicial systems, in which the UK’s are comparable – see European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice: European Judicial Systems.

Source
Magee legal aid review

Date: 03 March 2010

Sir Ian Magee's review into the delivery of legal aid.

The Ministry of Justice announced the review in October 2009, and invited Sir Ian Magee to assess the delivery and governance arrangements of the legal aid system.

The report sets out Sir Ian's recommendations to improve the system of legal aid delivery and sets out options for structural change.

Source

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http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/legal-aid-delivery.pdf
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