Cuts to the UK legal aid system have prompted a Great British backlash after it emerged the number of people able to fight welfare cases fell by 99.5 percent. Some 440 claimants were given assistance in the last financial year – down from 83,000 in 2012-13. But the legal aid problem goes deeper.
It was designed in 1949 to ensure people without the means can get access to justice. Now it is exploited by criminals and cowards who have convictions for rape, murder and plotting terrorism.
However, £1 billion will now be wiped from the legal aid budget. RT examines who has (and who has not) been awarded taxpayer funds to have their day in court.
GRANTED: Thomas Mair
MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered by Nazi fanatic Thomas Mair in the run up to the EU referendum. He was awarded £75,000 from the public purse to fund his fight – after he brutally killed a woman who fought for democracy and fairness.
The figures were obtained by the Sun following a freedom of information request.
Solicitors were paid £40,152, barrister costs amounted to £27,234 and £7,763 spent on disbursements. Mair was handed in legal fees the equivalent of what Cox earned fighting for her constituency for a whole year.
This killer had his day in court, but for victims, costly QCs on the public slate are not an option.
DENIED: Nadja Ensink-Teich
Nadja Ensink-Teich’s husband was stabbed to death by a paranoid schizophrenic. Dr Jeroen Ensink, 41, was killed in December 2015 days after his killer, 23-year-old student Femi Nandap, had charges against him dropped.
Nadja, 37, turned to crowdfunding for representation. She wanted a full independent investigation into the circumstances that led to her husband’s death and representation at his inquest.
Ensink was killed in December 2015 as he walked to a post box to send cards announcing the birth of his daughter 11 days earlier. An investigation into the conduct of eight officers has been launched. The inquest has been delayed until 2018.
GRANTED: Rochdale sex gang
One of the most shocking cases is that of the Rochdale sex gang who coerced and raped teenagers as young as 13. Taxpayers paid £1,009,645 for the Pakistani men to fight their extradition after conviction.
Shabir Ahmed, 64, the ringleader of the Rochdale child sex gang, Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Abdul Rauf used Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights to take it to court.
Ahmed was given £249,707, Abdul Rauf £282,370, Adil Khan £282,289 and Abdul Aziz £195,277. They were awarded the equivalent of the annual salary of 37 social workers, people who are needed to deal with the consequences of these heinous crimes.
However, if your child dies suddenly and you can credibly argue against a court ruling, you are not entitled to the same level of support.
DENIED: Zane Gbangbola
Zane Gbangbola, 7, died in February 2014 at his home in Chertsey during a flood. His parents believe cyanide gas contaminated water caused his death.
Hospital medics informed his father Kye within hours of the tragedy that firefighters had detected hydrogen cyanide gas in their home
It has been suggested carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause, but his parents wanted a definite answer at inquest. The ruling did not go in their favor.
However, the case has been widely attacked by politicians, who said it was deeply flawed. Zane’s dad, Kye Gbangbola, was paralysed in the same incident but the parents were told their case is not in the public interest.
GRANTED: Jordanian terrorist
A terrorist caught with manuals on attacking nightclubs and airports successfully claimed £250,000 in legal aid to fight deportation and a terrorism trial.
The Jordanian entered Britain illegally, but was allowed to claim more than the cost of the average home which Britons work their entire lives for, just to stop him being shipped out again.
It is claimed he was sent to the UK by a group linked to Al-Qaeeda. Once in Britain he lived on welfare payments. Oh, and his identity has been protected.
The amount spent on the convict is more than 11 times the average annual salary of a new British police officer. But why pay for eleven coppers, when you can fund a terrorist instead?
When your family member is the victim of a horrendous incident, it is not so easy to get your hands on a quarter of a mill.
DENIED: Shoreham Air Show victims
Eleven bystanders were killed in the Shoreham Air Show disaster on August 22, 2015 when a plane came down over the A27 highway as thousands gathered to watch the airshow, colliding with traffic and leaving a devastating trail of destruction.
James Healy Pratt, head at Stewarts Law, revealed their request for legal aid has been denied. They will be the only party not represented at the Coroner’s Court. Theresa May has insisted the case will be reviewed.
GRANTED: Anas Abdalla and Zakiria Boufassil
They wanted to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria but they were caught. Anas Abdalla and Zakaria Boufassil were a bit unhappy about it, so they applied for help to fight the cases against them.
Abdalla received £264,000 in legal aid to fight his charge of plotting terrorist acts. In just three trials solicitors claimed £130,463 and his barristers claimed £129,874 to defend him.
Boufassil, 26, was linked to the Brussels airport bomber “the man in the hat.” He met with the terrorist in the UK, and gave him £3,000. He claimed £140,000, broken down into £90,317 in solicitors fees, £46,046 in barrister costs and £4,100 in disbursement.
The combined £400,000 could pay for 18 prison guards for a whole year. But, we can’t afford those right now. We’d rather run our prisons with dangerously low staffing levels.
Yet when your loved one becomes a victim of terror, forget a helping hand from the Government.
DENIED: Hyde Park bombing victims
The Legal Aid Agency has refused to back the families of the Hyde Park bombing victims as they pursue a case against lead suspect John Downey. The suit could cost up to £650,000, but tens of thousands has been raised by the public.
Four soldiers were killed in 1982 when a 25lb nail bomb exploded outside the Household Cavalry barracks in Hyde Park, central London. Seven horses were also killed.
Downey’s Old Bailey trial collapsed in 2014.
GRANTED: Anjem Choudhary
Britain’s most notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary is one of the most well-known recipients of legal aid. A staggering £140,000 bill was handed to British taxpayers after the hate preacher had his day in court.
He unsuccessfully fought a charge that he was inviting support for IS. Convicted under the Terrorism Act 2000, it is believed Choudhary, who claimed tens of thousands in benefits, helped radicalize dozens of young people.
£140,000, that’s enough to pay five nurses for one year.
Of course, an infamous hate preacher could reach into the public’s collective pocket. But victims of serious domestic abuse – now they have to prove it – before they will even be considered for help
DENIED: Domestic violence
Thousands of domestic abuse victims have been failed under the legal aid system, with many being asked to “provide proof” they were abused in the last five years before a deliberation will be made on their case.
People who are able to provide evidence on their behalf include housing officers and women’s charities whereas before it was restricted to doctors, courts, police and social services.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said in February things would change, eight months later, they are still waiting.
GRANTED: Michael Adebolajo
Lee Rigby’s terrorist murderer, and his pal Michael Adebowale, were given more than £200,000 in taxpayer-funded financial support.
They hacked a serving soldier to death in the street after running him down with a car. They got a combined £212,613.32 in legal aid. That is more than 14 times the average starting salary for a serving soldier.
Despite the brutal murder on May 22, 2013, Adebolajo, who was sentenced to a whole-life term, received £138,803.96. Now he is suing prison officials for roughing him up.
And at least one judge thinks the “charismatic” killer deserves it.
“It will be a great pity to justice, and in particular the presentation of the claimant’s case, if some means were not found to ensure he had professional help,” Justice Langstaff said.