Vivian Meneses is cousin of Jean Charles De Menezes. Jean was shot dead by police at Stockwell tube station in 2005. His family had to rely on legal aid in their campaign to get truth and justice. As his parents are not resident in the UK, they would be excluded from legal aid under the government’s proposed “residence test” – part of proposals set out in April 2013. At the first Justice Alliance rally in July 2013, another of Jean’s cousins joined speakers to highlight the devastating impact of the proposed cuts.
In September 2013, after receiving 16,000 responses criticising the proposals, including the residence test, the government said that exceptional funding exists for inquests like that used in the De Menezes’ case. However, the exceptional funding scheme has been subject to intense criticism both by charities and politicians. Further, what is less well known is that for the family of Jean Charles De Menezes, legal aid was not required for the inquest alone.
Getting to the truth when the state is involved in a death of this nature is not a straightforward matter. The police, under great scrutiny from the public, sought to justify their actions. Jean’s family’s lawyer had to bring two judicial reviews challenging aspects of the investigation (including the refusal to prosecute anyone), and make formal complaints about police conduct (including one about the police leaking false information to the press). They also brought a civil claim. These crucial elements of the family’s campaign for justice are not covered by inquest exceptional funding.
So despite the government’s suggestion that the De Menezes family would not have been affected by the cuts, that’s simply not the case and we still need to fight for legal aid.
Do you want to live in a society where an innocent man can be shot on the tube and his family be left not knowing what happened? If you have not yet signed the petition then you can do so here: