NI: Belfast lawyers allowed to apply for legal aid in Birmingham bombing inquest

Sir Oliver Heald QC
Sir Oliver Heald QC

The UK government has announced changes to legal aid rules to allow the families of the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings to access legal aid.

Legal Aid Minister Sir Oliver Heald QC said changes to the regulations around inquest funding will allow Belfast firm KRW Law to apply for funding, despite not being registered in England and Wales.

Last June, the senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull decided to resume the inquests into the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974.

The double bombing on 21 November 1974 led to 21 fatalities and injured a further 182 people.

Sir Oliver told BBC News: “It would be a travesty for families to be denied justice simply because of a technicality, which is why I have taken the decision to change the regulations around inquest funding.

“This will remove any barrier from the families’ solicitors in applying for legal aid funding for the inquest.”

The Ministry of Justice’s (MOJ) amended regulations will enable the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) to offer a contract for legal representation at inquests to a solicitor firm not registered in England and Wales.

In a statement, a spokesperson for KRW Law said: “We have not yet seen the amended regulations but we have been assured by the MOJ and the LAA that the reforms are as being reported.

“This is a positive development for our clients who have continued to insist in being represented by KRW LAW LLP.

“Their perseverance and commitment has turned the rhetoric of the politicians into reality and we welcome this development.”

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