A minister has granted legal aid to the family of a woman whose shooting by police triggered riots in the 1980s, after her family delivered a petition signed by more than 130,000 people to Downing Street.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) initially refused the application for legal aid made by the family of Cherry Groce. 

However the Ministry of Justice said that following the initial refusal, further information was submitted to the LAA by the family’s lawyers, prompting it to refer to ministers the decision to grant exceptional funding.

Legal aid minister Shailesh Vara decided to grant funding.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: ‘Legal aid funding for lawyers to represent the family of Ms Groce at the forthcoming inquest into her death has now been granted.

‘Having considered the Legal Aid Agency’s request, ministers have decided to authorise funding for this case. We hope that this legal representation will help her family, and those who knew Ms Groce, find out more about the circumstances leading to her death.’

The ministry would not reveal the reasons for the initial refusal or the reason for the grant of legal aid, stating that the criteria for public funding had been met, while it had previously not been.

Groce was paralysed after being accidentally shot by police who were looking for her son Michael in 1985. Inspector Douglas Lovelock was acquitted in 1987 of inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm on Groce.

The incident sparked two days of rioting in Brixton, south London.

After Groce died in 2011, pathologists concluded there was a causal link between the shooting and her death. The inquest will open in June.