British (in)justice and Simon Hughes

No answer yet to my letter to the Ministry of (or for?) Justice but I remain baffled after this week. A week in which we had a second pre-inquest review (PIR) meeting and Simon Hughes, the Minister of State for Justice and and Civil Liberties was interviewed on You and Yours responding to Nico Reed’s mum, Rosi.

Simon Hughes stuck to the line that families don’t need legal representation at an inquest because it is (simply) an inquisitorial process. Such a blinkingly naive and ill informed response. He swerved the question about why public authorities can (and probably always do) have publicly funded legal representation. Typical slimeball stuff.

Here’s what could have happened if we’d had no legal representation at the PIR this week:


Coroner: Hello. Any questions from the family?
Family: We would like a jury at LB’s inquest please.
Coroner: I don’t think LB was detained so there is no basis to have a jury.
Family: He was. The unit door was locked.
Coroner: He could have asked for it to be unlocked. He wasn’t detained.
Family: Yes he was.
Coroner: I’m afraid I need more evidence. I remain unconvinced.
Family: He was.
Coroner: That isn’t evidence. It’s opinion.
Family: He just was.
Coroner: There will be no jury. Any other questions?

The British “justice” system clearly on fire when it comes to inquests.

13 thoughts on “British (in)justice and Simon Hughes

  1. The Court of Protection also uses this “inquisitorial” view to cover decisions that are final.??????? If the proceedings are “adverserial” then they can be challenged. My understanding is that the english judicial system is adverserial, whereas the continental law is inquisitorial (I lived in Switzerland). Ask Paul Bowen about this. Good luck

  2. I agree with Shirley Buckley regarding the Court of Protection. My experience of them was pretty dire, AND one sided. As for the Coroners attitude to Sara and family, I was wondering at what point he might want to apologise for being so dismissive.????

    • Ah, I don’t think he’d be dismissive Deb, more he would be looking for factual evidence or points of law to convince him. Families wouldn’t have this knowledge typically. 🙂

      • Fair point Sara, as you say points of law would generally evade families, probably due I think to the general distress of the situation. Even more reason why legal representation is needed for families to be guided through the law minefield in any “dispute” with care providers and LA`s over negligence.

        • Points of law, would evade, them because they do not know what they are..

          The coroner is under a duty to conduct a fair hearing, and himself raise valid points of law , if not raised, but in practice this maynot happen, unless you get a good coroner, with great integrity, and time- remember courts, are clogged up with cases, and time limits imposed by our government.

          Soon, as was proposed by the MOJ, all courts will be privatised, and their overriding, duty as a corporate body, outsourced by the likes of SERCO, CAPITA, is to make profit , not administer justice.

  3. Please don’t ever stop this blog. I log onto my email every morning at the crack of dawn (often in between the furious search for a hole free pair of black tights and my work mobile), hoping to see a message. You posts are a moral compass when working in the social care front line.

  4. It might not just be that your legal team are good, and can be trusted, but also that the coroner knows, that the media spotlight is on him in the form of the LB Bill.

    We can expect no less from the state, they want a pure inquisitorial system, so they can control and self preserve, and for additional gravy training, and preservation, they alone can have legal representation.

    It is the same in the care courts 72,000 children are now removed for ever just this year , the only children available for adoption in the UK are other people’s that want to keep them.

    There is only legal aid if on benefits, and without it, parents are in a worse position than your picture, there are 4 against none ie CAFASS guardian their barrister, social worker and their solicitor.

    It to has the huge state advantage of also being adversarial, and worse still no jury. And the children are lost for ever..

  5. I am not sure if this helps, probably not, but have you ever tried legal aid. My stories are many but the best one is: The Judge informed the Official Solicitor (acting as my son’s litigation friend) that the case was a “shambles” No proper evidence. The case then continued based entirely on the OS’s evidence which was non existant. Martin was declared to have no capacity to decide where he lived, what medical treatment he had, and on his contact with me his mother. I am allowed to publish this. A legal aid lawyer can do what he wants, at least if one pays one has the right to instruct, and be sure that one gets what one is paying for.

  6. I thInk you are amazing Sara, both in the fight for justice for LB and the fight for the rights of others stuck in this stupid, stupid system. We had a brief experience of Sloven and it wasn’t impressive. Me: “You need to make reasonable adjustments.” Them: “Well we can’t.” And so on. Keep fighting.

    • The only remedy, and accountablity against the NHS for inadequate services is, a damages action in neglience after a life has been lost, or physical suffering/damage incurred.

      Or, as seen in Staffordshire NHS Trust, a government fine, paid by us, after hugely expensive campaigns, deaths, and enquiries.

      Such private legal actions, are seen as an inevitable consequence of NHS service provision, and risk assessed into the NHS insurance premiums.

      This laissez- faire, buisness, inhuman attiude towards life, and human suffering, is the reason for the many NHS trust scandals, and the general inadequacy of medical care.

      Until a better system of accountability is found, NHS systems will remain inept, and dangerous, particularly for the mentally disordered.

  7. OK so how about a level playing field then? If families don’t need lawyers – then the other side should be prohibited from bringing them too. How about some rules/laws/regulations that say that public authorities may not pay for legal representation at an inquest – and therefore paying for same will be ultra vires? After all if you don’t need one “because it is (simply) an inquisitorial process” then they shouldn’t either.

  8. Pingback: Inaccurate submissions | mydaftlife

  9. Pingback: Inaccurate submissions | mydaftlife

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