Calling on ALL fellow Lancers past and present, family and friends!
After reading the following publishment below, I just found it absolutely shocking that Tpr David Clarke's (QRL) Mother, Beverley Clarke, had her Legal Aid funds removed even though she had kept fully in line with the Welfare Regulations!! I'm sure you'll all agree that Beverley and the rest of the family have been through more pain, distress annd grief than any family should ever have to go through without there being even more inflicted stress from the Government!!! Please lets get together and show our support and donate to this very worthy cause to help Beverley Clarke to continue to fight for justice for David in the courts without having to worry about costs should the case be unsuccessful. Please read the following for a full in depth view to this cause
An unemployed mother who is bringing a landmark legal action against the Ministry of Defence over the death of her son, a soldier killed in Iraq in a friendly-fire incident, has said she is “devastated” after losing her legal aid when she took a low-paid job to comply with welfare regulations.
Beverley Clarke’s barrister, John Hendy QC, said the decision showed that the pursuit of justice in the civil courts was becoming an option available only to “corporations and the very rich”.
Clarke’s 19-year-old son, David, died in 2003 after his Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank was fired on by another British Tank, his inquest concluded was “avoidable”. An MoD inquiry also acknowledged that Clarke’s death highlighted “shortcomings in combat identification, situational awareness and target identification”.
In an attempt to prove the MoD is not subject to blanket immunity for every friendly-fire incident, something that would establish a precedent for serving military personnel, Clarke and the families of several other deceased soldiers brought civil actions in the high court.
In 2013, the supreme court agreed that they should be allowed to pursue their actions against the MoD. Owing to the significant wider public interest, it was decided that legal aid should be extended for Clarke to take her case to trial.
But the case is now in jeopardy after Clarke, who had been unemployed and was receiving benefits, took a shop job to comply with welfare laws that oblige benefits claimants to look for work.
Under the previous system, Clarke could have obtained a specialist form of insurance to protect her if she lost the case and had to pay the MoD’s legal bill. But the market for this type of insurance has dried up and drastic cuts to legal aid mean she no longer qualifies for funding, even though the job she has taken pays a low wage.
“I was absolutely devastated when legal aid was taken away from me,” said Clarke. “It seemed so unfair. Legal aid had been in place for so long. I told the truth about starting work. I needed to work. I did not lie. Everything was then taken away from me. All of a sudden I could lose my home by continuing my case, because I had no protection against the MoD’s legal costs. This felt like a punishment for telling the truth. It was nothing to do with how important my case was to me, or to thousands of other families and soldiers who would benefit if the case was won.”
Clarke has been attempting to crowdfund the money to meet her “adverse costs” if she loses the case, but she has raised only a fraction of the £5,000 target she was hoping to reach.
Nathan Roughton of Public Interest Lawyers, Clarke’s solicitors – who, like Hendy, are representing her for free – said his client’s situation confirmed that “recent changes to legal aid policy have effectively removed all financial means, other than charitable donations, from ordinary working people to access justice, particularly in groundbreaking cases of public importance”.
Hendy said he was concerned that basic democratic principles are being put at risk: “The changes to legal aid are a threat to the rule of law in my view,” he said. “If people haven’t got access to the courts, then the rule of law goes out of the window. The cuts to civil legal aid are just so awful for a modern democracy. Ordinary people cannot fund litigation, which means the courts are only open to the corporations and very rich individuals. I find that completely unacceptable.”
Hendy said that even the MoD had agreed it was important for the case to be heard so it could establish a precedent concerning whether it could be held liable for friendly-fire incidents in future. “It’s plainly a very important matter for the law to establish what the liability is of the MoD for dreadful accidents that happen in the battlefield, particularly where there is evidence that the system, had it been improved, could have avoided the accident,” said Hendy.
The MoD insists that it met its obligations to Clarke, but Hendy said more could have been done to improve the training of armed forces personnel. “Everybody makes mistakes, that’s well understood, but the purpose of systems is to try to minimise those mistakes being made. The case is about testing the limits of the law in relation to that. It’s a critical matter for the Ministry of Defence and every soldier, seafarer and airforce member of staff and their families. They need to know when or not the law makes the MoD liable in these circumstances. It’s got huge implications.”
The case is an expensive one to bring, but Hendy insisted his client was not motivated by money. “Her compensation would be very modest if she is successful. It’s the principle that’s important, establishing a principle that would protect potentially thousands of other people.
“One might have thought that the legal aid system ought to be flexible enough to allow important cases like this to be litigated, but it’s not.”