Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

July 7 London bombings survivors to get legal aid

July 7 London bus bombing
Fifty-two innocent people were killed in the London bombings in 2005

Up to 800 survivors of the July 7 London bombings will be allowed to apply for legal aid at the inquests of the 52 victims of the 2005 attacks.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has decided to allow funding for a legal team to represent the survivors.

They will argue that the survivors are "interested parties", therefore able to question witnesses and see documents.

Last week, the Ministry of Justice said legal aid would be provided to the relatives of those who died.

Funding will also be provided for any survivors that coroner Lady Justice Hallett agrees to recognise as interested persons at the inquests.

Survivors' complaints

Lady Justice Hallett will decide the format of the inquests at a three-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London next month.

This includes whether the inquests of the four suicide bombers should be heard jointly or separately.

The inquests are likely to start in October at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Survivors had complained that "unnecessary bureaucracy" was hampering their bids for legal aid.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) required those involved to complete a 15-page financial assessment form as part of their application.

This process has now been scrapped and in its place a dedicated contact point for legal aid inquiries has been set up.

In the case of the victims' families, the MoJ said it had made the decision to grant legal aid because of the "exceptional circumstances" of the case.

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