Parents Join Campaign To Stop ‘Unethical’ Legal Aid Cuts For Vulnerable Victims

Support Grows Against Government Plans

08.09.2011

The mother of a young teenage girl who suffered life devastating injuries after a number of dangerous symptoms went untreated at birth has joined a campaign to prevent the Government from cutting Legal Aid funding.

Ayesha Kishver, 14, from Coventry was born at just 25 weeks and suffered a mild degree of brain injury.  But a High Court Judge ruled that her condition had been made worse after medical staff failed to identify and treat her metabolic acidosis and septicaemia.

Following the 2008 trial the family’s lawyer, medical law and patient’s rights expert Sara Burns from law firm Irwin Mitchell says the family won their battle for justice and a care package was secured for Ayesha as a result of the physical disabilities and severe cognitive problems she suffered due to someone else’s negligence.

But now her mother, Mrs Shahana Kishver, 55, is calling on the Government to stop the ‘unethical’ cuts to legal aid funding, which will prevent other victims receiving the legal support they need to secure justice.

She will also make this plea on ITV’s Tonight show (Thursday 8th September  – 7.30pm) which highlights the importance of Legal Aid funding for many families who have suffered in a similar way.

Mrs Kishver said: “This has been a very difficult time for my family who had to fight to ensure our little girl received access to the care and equipment she needs now, and for the rest of her life as a result of someone else’s negligence.

“To think that, under the Government’s new proposals, we might not have been able to get the legal support we relied on so heavily to win our battle for justice is unthinkable.  My heart goes out to any family put in this position in the future..

“I only hope that serious consideration is given to these unethical cuts, and that the most vulnerable members of our society are not prejudiced against so disgracefully.”

Sara Burns said: “The Government just isn’t listening. Hundreds of different groups have warned that its proposals will be a hammer blow to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, families like Ayesha’s, yet the Secretary of State is pushing on with his devastating reforms regardless of the consequences and delivering a major double whammy to consumers.

“Not only is he slashing Legal Aid but he’s also attacking access to justice through a radical restructure of legal funding which will force thousands of injured people to pay significant sums in legal fees out of their hard-won compensation. This will deter many from bringing legitimate claims.

”Shockingly, the worst hit will be seriously injured people and victims of some of the worst medical accidents in the NHS, including seriously brain injured children. Legal Aid provides those children with a means to access the lifetime of round-the-clock care that they need and these cases account for half of the all the damages paid out by the NHS. To pull the plug on that is morally wrong.

“Lord Justice Jackson, who the Government has made much of supporting, said Legal Aid should not be cut in areas such as clinical negligence, so too did the Judges’ Council and the NHSLA itself. Even the Lord Chief Justice is reported to be against the plans, yet the Government is ignoring them all.”

Sara continued: “Ayesha’s compensation, which is now being managed by Irwin Mitchell’s Court of Protection team, means that her future care is secured and she has access to the specialist equipment she needs to live as normal a life as possible despite her injuries.

 “Day after day, we work with clients who face long and difficult legal battles to access justice so that they have the chance of life transforming awards of damages.

“In many of these cases, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to bring those cases without the support of Legal Aid or No Win No Fee agreements, but now the civil justice system is being decimated by these plans and injured victims will pay the price. The winners from that will be defendants; the losers will be those who most need help from the law.

“The Government has got it badly wrong here and is at risk of taking a serious backward step. The Secretary of State should spare a thought for the people who will suffer, listen to the widespread opposition to his plans as he has done on sentencing and think again before it is too late.”