A NATIONAL campaign group has backed a South Normanton carer who has petitioned the Justice Secretary not to cut Legal Aid for victims of medical blunders.
Michelle Towle, 34, who cares for her disabled brother-in-law Aaron Tring, says there is a risk of turning people like Aaron into “second class citizens”.
“I urge you to reconsider your plans to remove this vital access to justice for those people like Aaron,” Michelle wrote in a letter to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.
“Aaron’s case is not one in isolation. There are many people out there who have suffered the same or similar injustice and these are the very people who need support from the Government,” she said.
Aaron, 26, developed cerebral palsy after he was starved of oxygen at birth in March 1985. As a result he is severely disabled.
The hospital where Aaron was born acknowledged that errors had happened. Following investigations by his legal team, medical experts agreed that there were delays when he was born and that if he had been born a few minutes earlier his brain damage would have been prevented.
At the High Court in London in June this year, a judge approved a multi-million pound compensation settlement for Aaron’s case to ensure his complex needs will be met for the rest of his life, as the 26-year-old needs 24-hour care. Aaron’s case, which was brought after he was starved of oxygen at birth, was paid for using money from Legal Aid.
Without it, Mrs Towle said they would not have been able to afford to pay for a legal team to fight the case, which lasted for seven years.
She said: “Without Legal Aid, we would not have had any financial ability to take his case as far as it did. Everybody watches the news and we pick out the bits that are relevant to us, so when I heard Ken Clarke talking about cuts to Legal Aid I decided to write to him. If they don’t have the provision to make it right, then it makes them second-class citizens.”
Mrs Towle said if Legal Aid was not available to victims of medical blunders, then hospitals might never be held accountable for mistakes.
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers president David Bott said: “Cutting Legal Aid for victims of medical blunders, at the same time as restricting the ‘no-win, no-fee’ system, is a savage blow for people like Aaron. Michelle is right to take this issue straight to the Justice Secretary, as vulnerable people seem to have been ignored in these ill-thought through proposals.”