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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
MP urges legal aid review
Tony Martin
Tony Martin shot Brendan Fearon in August 1999
A thorough review of the legal aid system is needed in the wake of state-funded attempts by a burglar to sue a householder who shot and injured him, the Government was urged on Tuesday.

Conservative MP for South West Devon Gary Streeter told the Commons the world had gone "barking mad" and the public had lost confidence in the system.

Brendon Fearon, 33, won the right to sue Tony Martin for a reported 15,000 damages for wounds he received during a break-in at the farmer's home in Emneth Hungate, Norfolk, in August 1999.

A judge at Nottingham County Court declared this month that Mr Fearon was entitled under the Human Rights Act to a full hearing and sent the case to the Royal Courts of Justice.

Is it any wonder that the general public are losing confidence in the Legal Aid Board
Gary Streeter MP

Mr Martin, who is serving a five-year jail term for manslaughter, has vowed to fight any action "tooth and nail".

Losing confidence

At question time for ministers in the new Department of Constitutional Affairs, Mr Streeter asked: "Will you organise a thorough review of the Legal Aid Board and its practices generally?

"When we live in a society where someone who chooses to break into a house with the intention of stealing then gets legal aid to bring an action for damages against the householder hasn't the world gone barking mad?

"And is it any wonder that the general public are losing confidence in the Legal Aid Board?"

Junior minister David Lammy said a consultation on the supply, demand and purchase of legal aid began on 5 June and would continue "for some months".

Tony Martin: Crime and controversy
13 Jun 03  |  Norfolk
Burglar sues farmer
23 Dec 02  |  England
Timeline: The Tony Martin case
30 Oct 01  |  UK News

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