Page last updated at 20:01 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

7/7 survivors criticise 'intrusive' legal aid forms

Aftermath of 7 July bomb attacks
Fifty-two innocent people were killed in the bombings

Survivors of the 7/7 bombings have said "unnecessary" bureaucracy is hampering legal aid bids for representation at the inquests of those who were killed.

They complained about having to provide in-depth information about their finances to help their applications.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) requires those involved to fill-in a 15-page financial assessment form that they must complete to apply for legal aid.

Ministers said they had received one claim this year which they had agreed.

All the families of the 52 people killed in the 2005 London attacks are likely to be eligible for legal aid for representation at the inquests, which are set to start in October.

'Breach of privacy'

Rachel North, who survived the King's Cross bombing, criticised the detail required in the form.

She said: "I wonder why it is their business to know how much, for example, my spouse has saved in his pension or whether I have household contents or pet insurance?

"It is such a breach of privacy and so unnecessary. Why should my whole life be investigated as if I am some kind of criminal when all I want is to find answers?"

The MoJ has agreed with the Legal Services Commission (LSC) that solicitors can take their clients through the form orally, rather than requiring them to complete forms themselves.

A spokesperson said: "As of February 28, the Ministry of Justice has received one exceptional funding application, relating to the 7/7 inquests, from the LSC. Ministers have granted funding in this case."

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