Upholding justice across the legal system and challenging police forces and state bodies over their investigations and actions has been a key part of Hudgell Solicitors’ representation of clients over the past 12 months.
It has seen our lawyers supporting families as lengthy independent investigations take place, through inquests at court and in civil compensation actions.
Our team continues to represent families in cases relating to police shootings, where concerns over the efficiency of investigations have been raised, where the reliability of arrests and convictions are being questioned and where families feel their loved ones were badly let down.
Our experienced lawyers are also involved in major ongoing inquiries and investigations, representing victims, families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster, and core participants of the Infected Blood Inquiry.
We also continue to act on behalf of dozens of people who have had convictions overturned as a major investigation into thousands of forensic results – and alleged manipulation of them – continues.
We are working to right wrongs every day.
Inquest representation helping families hold public bodies to account
Head of Civil Liberties Andrew Petherbridge said: “It has been a significant year for our specialist civil liberties and human rights lawyers as we are involved in many cases of national significance.
“The final outcomes of these cases may not only prove highly significant for the individuals involved, but also potentially be far reaching across the justice system, policing and the courts.
“We are representing families who feel their loved ones would still be with them today had police forces and other agencies done their jobs differently. We are seeking damages for people who have lost their employment and suffered greatly as a result of unsafe forensic testing, and representing people who feel their health and well-being was impacted upon by being given contaminated blood. These are major, life-changing injustices.”
Families have increasingly turned to Hudgell Solicitors’ expertise for representation at inquests after their loved ones have died following some involvement with the police or other state bodies, looking to ensure they are held to account and fully questioned over their actions and decisions.
“Inquests are playing an ever-increasingly important role, not only in ensuring justice is served for those who lose their lives and that lessons are learned to better protect the public in the future, but also with regards to legal redress through civil claims,” said Mr Petherbridge.
“A coroner’s conclusion can prove supportive of future legal proceedings on behalf of families, such as civil claims for damages, and that is why it is imperative that state bodies are fully questioned and held accountable for their actions.
“We represented the family of Jacqueline Oakes at inquest this year, where it was concluded that she was unlawfully killed by her violent ex-partner Marcus Musgrove.
“It was found that the inappropriate decision to house Musgrove in the same accommodation as Jacqueline contributed to her death, and that despite regular multi-agency meetings about Jacqueline and the threat to her Musgrove posed, key information was not shared and acted upon accordingly.
“Equally we have represented families at inquests this year where there have been questionable police actions and decisions during emergency situations and responses, which have resulted in lives being lost.
“In those cases clear errors by forces and individuals have been highlighted at the inquests, and those cases continue to be pursued for civil damages.”
Firm has led legal representation for victims of Randox Testing Services forensics scandal
One of the most significant cases handled by Hudgell Solicitors’ Civil Liberties and Human Rights specialists in 2018 has related to the ongoing investigation into a Manchester-based laboratory which was used by 42 UK police forces, and around 10,000 potentially unsafe forensic test results.
The firm is representing around 40 people who have had convictions overturned.
“Many of these peoples’ lives have been hugely affected,” said Mr Petherbridge.
“Not only have they been through the difficulty of being convicted in the courts, they have also suffered the subsequent impact of being unable to drive, causing some to lose their jobs, suffer reputational damage and for some it has left them struggling to see family members.
“As a firm we have led from the start in this case and that is why so many people have turned to us to seek legal redress for their suffering.”
Hudgell Solicitors continues to represent the families of murderer Stephen Port’s victims, with the inquest into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor expected to be held in 2019.
Original inquest conclusions into the deaths of Gabriel and Daniel were quashed after an application was made to the High Court following Port’s trial and sentencing to life in prison. It was confirmed in October by the Chief Coroner that a judge will be appointed to conduct the inquests.
Another case expected to progress to inquest early in 2019 is that of Lewis Skelton, who was shot dead by officers from Humberside Police in November 2016.
Mr Petherbridge said: “A long time has passed since that fateful day when Lewis lost his life and the inquest will be hugely important to his family.
“They want it to be a comprehensive and transparent investigation into all events leading to and surrounding his death, bringing clarity and full explanations as to how and why events unfolded as they did, and whether anything could and should have been done differently to prevent Lewis losing his life.
“It will be our role during that inquest to ensure those questions are answered.”