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Suicide bomber widow loses appeal for legal aid

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The widow of Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the suicide bombers responsible for the 7/7 bombings, has failed to convince the High Court that she should receive public funding for legal representation at the inquest into the deaths caused by the bombings.

The woman, Sumaiya Patel, had applied for judicial review of the decision of the Lord Chancellor's Department to refuse her funding.

'Public interest'

The four July 7, 2005 bombs all exploded in London -- one on a bus and three on the Underground system -- killing 56 people and injuring hundreds more.

The families of the victims secured legal aid at the inquest by arguing there was a 'significant public interest' in their being represented.

Ms Patel also requested funding on the same ground.

But the Lord Chancellor's department refused. It found that while there was a public interest in the families of the victims being represented, granting representation to Ms Patel 'would not produce any additional benefits'.

Ms Patel subsequently appealed the decision arguing it was 'irrational and unreasonable'.

Dismissing her application, the High Court held that the Lord Chancellor justifiably concluded that funding legal representation for Ms Patel at the inquests would not have produced any benefits for individuals other than herself, and therefore failed the 'public interest test'.

It also dismissed the application because Ms Patel failed to pursue it with 'sufficient vigour' -- i.e., inside the requisite three month time limit -- even though it must have been 'abundantly clear' to her that she needed to act promptly to avoid dealing the inquest.

Moreover, Ms Patel failed to prove that the decision of the Lord Chancellor was irrational and unreasonable. While it is a matter of significant public interest to understand why someone like Khan should act as he did, and Ms Patel said that she could provide unique insight on this point, she failed to provide any evidence to show why he and others became involved in the bombing.

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