INQUEST informs vital House of Lords justice debates
4 November 2016
Lord Toby Harris referenced the work of INQUEST twice this week in the House of Lords, highlighting our role in keeping parliamentarians informed of our vital work with people facing a death in contentious circumstances.
In Wednesday’s debate on the Policing and Crime Bill, Lord Harris spoke in favour of an amendment – later withdrawn – to provide families with “parity of legal funding” in inquests following a death in the care of the state.
He told the House: “If it were not for charities like INQUEST, with which I have worked over the years, which provides support for such families and has a panel of lawyers to assist them, many families would essentially go unrepresented at inquests. Yet it is important that those families have the right to challenge the evidence being presented to make sure that they are satisfied that as far as possible, the truth has been obtained at the inquest.”
The following day, Lord Harris used information provided by INQUEST on the death of Levi Cronin at HMP Highpoint to question the Lords over self-inflicted deaths in prison. Listing the “inadequacies and failures” identified at the inquest into Levi’s death, he asked the House: “Exactly how does the Minister think it will be possible to deliver the sort of personalised care and support that are necessary in the absence of better staffing levels, which the announcement today does not seem likely to deliver?”
‘My congratulations to all involved in this 30 year battle for disclosure [of the Cass report on the death of Blair Peach] … it was this awful state of affairs which led those of us who founded INQUEST to set it up. But it is mind-boggling to think that we were still arguing over this report 30 years later.’
– Terry Munyard, barrister at Garden Court Chambers and founding member of INQUEST