Notable Civil Liberties & Human Rights Cases

The team has an enviable reputation dealing with civil liberties and human rights cases. We are on the cutting edge of this area and have worked on a number of major public interest cases throughout their history.

Grenfell Tower Fire Inquiry

Hodge Jones & Allen is one of the main firms representing survivors and those who lost loved ones in the fire at the Grenfell Tower block in June 2017. The tragedy claimed 72 lives and left more than 70 injured.

Hodge Jones & Allen is representing 42 clients with phase 1 focused on the factual narrative of the events of the night and phase 2 considering the history of the building, refurbishment and other broader issues.

The survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire will be trying to rebuild their lives while the inquiry into the circumstances of the fire continues.

Air Pollution – Ella Kissi Debrah

Jocelyn Cockburn who is a partner in the team has been a trailblazer in this area, and for three years she has represented the family of Ella Kissi Debrah who died on 15 February 2013 from asthma, aged 9. Ella lived only 25 metres from the highly polluted South Circular Road in London. For 3 years between 2010 and 2013 she suffered a serious of asthma attacks that led to regular hospitalisation. The family wanted to find out what had triggered her asthma, a matter that was not looked into at the first inquest, and this led them to come to Jocelyn to explore whether there was a link between her episodes of ill health and the air pollution to which she was exposed.

There is considerable widespread public concern about the risks posed by air pollution, and about the role of pollution in Ella’s specific death. A petition signed by 177,363 people called for a second inquest into her death in 2019 the High Court ordered that there should be a second inquest into Ella’s death that should look into whether air pollution contributed to her death.

Stephen Lawrence

Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors brought a judicial review challenge against the Director of Prosecutions for the decision not to prosecute anybody for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The investigation into his death was reopened and in January 2012 two men were convicted of his murder.

In addition, Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors represents Dr Neville Lawrence OBE, father of Stephen Lawrence, in relation to IOPC investigations into allegations of corruption and misconduct during the initial murder investigation and in relation to the upcoming Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry marking 20 years since the publication of the Macpherson Report.

Our team is working with representatives of other Non-Police, Non-State Core Participants (NPSCPs) to influence the direction of the Inquiry.

Snatch Land Rover

A major landmark case in June 2013 at the Supreme Court – Smith & Ors v Ministry of Defence – allowed families of soldiers killed in poorly armoured Snatch Land Rovers in Iraq to bring claims for damages under the Human Rights Act and negligence. Hodge Jones & Allen represented the claimants in the case. This ruling established for the first time that the European Convention on Human Rights applies to soldiers on the battlefield.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) finally apologised to the families of servicemen killed in poorly armoured Snatch Land Rover vehicles during the Iraq War.

In letters to the Snatch Land Rover families, the Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, has apologised for the MoD’s delay in introducing alternative protected vehicles which could have saved lives.

Hillsborough

A total of 96 people lost their lives during the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. It was 26 years later before an inquest jury concluded that those who died were unlawfully killed. Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors represents a number of families of those killed in a civil litigation against the Chief Constables of South Yorkshire and West Midlands known as the Hillsborough Victims’ Misfeasance Litigation.

The negligence claims relate to the failings by South Yorkshire Police that led to the tragedy and the pain and suffering of the victims, and is as much about recognition of the victims’ suffering and to correct a grave wrong to the families, who were told at the original inquests that their loved ones did not suffer and died instantaneously.

It was not until the pathology evidence heard at the fresh inquests, which concluded in April 2016, that it was finally recognised that the victims had suffered gravely prior to their deaths.

The Right to Die

Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors act for the Humanists UK in their intervention in a claim for judicial review concerning the right to die. The first case, R (Conway) v SSJ, was heard in the Administrative Court in July 2017. Mr Conway was seeking to change the law that prevents terminally ill people with less than 6 months to live from being able to choose a medically assisted death.

Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors applied on behalf of Humanists UK for permission to intervene and make written and oral submissions. The case proceeded to the Court of Appeal and again we represented Humanists UK it their intervention and made oral submissions in support of the Mr Conway. Mr Conway has recently made an application to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Permission has been refused. We are reviewing the litigation strategy with Humanists UK to enable us to continue to pursue this important legal challenge further.

Inquest into the Death of Edir Da Costa

Edir Da Costa was in a car which was stopped by police on 15th June 2017. He was restrained by the police on the side of the road and sprayed with CS gas. He was taken to hospital and died 6 days later. His death sparked a Black Lives Matter protest in East London.

Five Officers involved in his restraint are currently under investigation for misconduct. We are assisting the family through the IPCC investigation and inquest proceedings. This will be an important case to examine current restraint techniques and policy and whether it sufficiently safeguards lives.

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