Legal aid woes could delay bin lorry FAI

Solicitor general Lesley Thomson QC

Lawyers representing the families of victims of the Glasgow bin lorry crash have said their clients are struggling to successfully apply for legal aid for the fatal accident inquiry (FAI).

A preliminary hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that families of the six people killed in the crash last December have faced difficulty winning legal aid.

Stephen Dryden, speaking on behalf of the family of Jack and Lorraine Sweeney as well as their late 18-year old granddaughter Erin McQuade, said there was “a difficulty at the present time with legal aid” but an application for full legal aid had been lodged.

The lawyer representing the family of Gillian Ewing said that full legal aid “is still not available to the family of Gillian Ewing”, adding: “I appeared pro bono previously. There are concerns that the family have engagement in this process.”

The families have separate representation because “there may not be complete synergy between all the families”, he said.

He added: “All of the public bodies have been given separate representation.

“The family are entitled to instruct their own solicitors.”

Due to the delays in legal aid being granted, the lawyers say they have not been able to see all of the evidence and could therefore not say whether they would be ready for the inquiry’s proposed start date of 22 July.

A further preliminary hearing is taking place on 18 June, at which the court will hear whether it can begin the inquiry in July.

Solicitor general Lesley Thomson QC, acting for the Crown, said: “I think it’s extremely important if the families are represented, they are represented in full.”

Lawyers for the bin lorry driver Harry Clarke, Glasgow City Council, the DVLA and several doctors also appeared in court.

A lawyer appeared for the two other crew members who were in the bin lorry at the time of the crash as well as a GP who saw the lorry driver in April 2010.

The fatal accident inquiry is to look at the technical side of the bin lorry as well as its route and the medical history of the driver.

It will hear whether anything could have been done to bring the vehicle to a controlled stop.

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