A weekly newspaper has launched a campaign to secure legal aid for the family of two children who died from carbon monoxide poisoning during a holiday in Corfu nearly eight years ago.
Christianne Shepherd, aged seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert, from Wakefield, died on the Greek island in October 2006 whilst on a half-term holiday with their father, Neil,and his partner Ruth.
The family still do not know the truth behind the deaths and have been refused legal aid by the government ahead an inquest into the tragedy which takes place in January.
Wakefield Express editor said Mark Bradley: “The Express has been reporting on this tragedy alongside the family for eight years, and this is one of their final hurdles in getting some kind of closure, if that’s ever possible when your children are taken from you.
“What everyone wants here is a level playing field – for Bobby and Christi’s inquest to be heard with both sides having legal representation.
“It’s astounding that Legal Aid can get granted to some incredibly spurious causes, but it’s then determined that a case like this doesn’t warrant it.
“The more signatures we get on the petition, the more it will assist the family when they meet the prime minister, so I’d urge everyone to take a minute from their day and add their name to the list.”
Tour operator Thomas Cook was cleared of responsibilty in relation to the deaths of the two children and awarded £1m in damages by the High Court in 2013.
The travel company tried to stop the inquest and called for it to take place without a jury.
But the campaign’s petition already has almost 4,000 signatures and Mr Cameron has agreed to meet with Neil Shepherd and his wife, and the children’s mother Sharon Wood and stepfather Paul, Wakefield MP Mary Creagh and the Ministry of Justice.
Speaking after a pre-inquest hearing, Sharon criticised the government for refusing to grant Legal Aid to continue with the proceedings.
“Thomas Cook tried to halt the inquest into our childrens’ deaths, and deny us our chance to have the full facts dealt with in a British court room. Our need for legal representation is now urgent. We call on the government to help us and ensure that as grieving parents we are not left alone to represent ourselves.
“We believe that there is an exceptional and overwhelming public interest for the lessons of our tragedy to be learned so that no other family suffer as we have.”
To sign the petition calling on the Prime Minister to overturn the decision not to grant legal aid click here.