The family of a teenager murdered abroad is being denied legal aid to cover their costs in a case being heard in Greece ‘contrary to the prime minister’s own personal suggestion’, an MP has said.
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, said the family of 19-year-old Tyrell Matthews-Burton (pictured), murdered in July last year in a bar, faces costs of up to €20,000 (£16,500) to be represented in judicial investigations.
Charity Victim Support has provided £1,800 for the family to appoint a Greek lawyer.
Creasy said: ‘We are now told - contrary to the prime minister’s own personal suggestion - that Tyrell’s mother is not eligible for legal aid as a family member of a victim of crime.’
She questioned whether the stance accords with obligations under the 2012 EU directive on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime stating that all member states must ensure protection for the rights of families of murder victims.
Creasy urged the government to review its protocol for the management of such cases. 'We cannot have a fair and just system if only those families who can secure a media presence receive the intervention they need when something terrible happens to a family member overseas,’ she told MPs.
Hugo Swire, minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said the government had done everything it can in compliance with its international obligations.
‘I understand, of course, that appointing a lawyer can put a huge financial burden on a family,' he said. ‘However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office cannot fund legal representation. We are simply not resourced to offer such funding,’ he said.
The case is currently at the judicial investigation stage, with the Greek courts deciding if further investigation is required.
A Victim Support spokeswoman said: ‘While a public prosecutor may be appointed by the court in another country, victims’ families often find it difficult to access information unless they instruct a lawyer to represent their interests.'