I specialise in civil claims against the State involving breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights and representing bereaved families at Inquests following deaths in detention.
I joined Hodge Jones & Allen in 2009 as a trainee solicitor and qualified as a solicitor in the Civil Liberties department in September 2011. I became an associate in October 2015 and was promoted to Senior Associate in May 2016.
I was shortlisted for the ‘Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year: Newcomer’ award at the 2014 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards.
- BBP, Legal Practice Course, passed with distinction, 2008 – 2009
- New Hall College, Cambridge University, MPhil Criminology, 2007 – 2008
- St John’s College, Oxford University, BA (Hons) Law, 2004 – 2007
- Senior Associate, Hodge Jones & Allen, May 2016 – present
- Associate, Hodge Jones & Allen, October 2015 – May 2016
- Solicitor, Hodges Jones & Allen, September 2011 – October 2015
- Trainee Solicitor, Hodge Jones & Allen, September 2009 – 2011
- Prison Law paralegal, Julian Young & Co Solicitors, 2008 – 2009
- “I am happy to recommend HJA to anyone. Clair Hilder was particularly helpful, courteous and knowledgeable and provided good guidance throughout the duration of my case. Thanks”
- “Absolute professional conduct. Very responsive and I could not have wished for a better firm and solicitor to deal with my case. From start to finish the service has been outstanding. And I like to thank my solicitor Clair Hilder for her outstanding help to getting my case solved and concluded to my satisfaction.”
- “Helpful, friendly fast work from Clair. Very clear and supportive all the way along.’
- “… would be my first choice again, if need be.”
- “Very professional, and helpful.”
- “It was excellent service from start to finish.”
- Clair “has worked relentlessly to help me obtain legal aid over the past year. Her patience and constant effort to help me has meant that I can now have representation in court for my son’s inquest and hopefully will find justice and peace of mind.”
- “I had every confidence in you. When we were in Court you explained any points of law that came up and answered any questions I had. I do not know what I would have done if I did not have you there.”
Notable Cases – Inquests and associated civil claims
- I am currently instructed by a number of bereaved families following self-inflicted deaths in HMP Winchester. The most recent Chief Inspector of Prisons report carried out following an inspection of HMP Winchester in July 2016 noted that the prisons’ management of suicide and self-harm had worsened since the previous inspection and expressed concern that insufficient attention had been given to making necessary changes.
- The Inquest into the death of Haydn Burton who died in July 2015 concluded in September 2016 and the Jury found that his death had been exacerbated by inadequate implementation of self-harm and suicide prevention procedures and insufficient communication within the prison system. The Coroner issued a Prevention of Future Deaths report raising concern about staff not implementing policy and inadequate observations being conducted on those at risk of suicide and self-harm.
- The Inquest into the death of Daryl Hargrave who also died in July 2015 concluded in April 2017 and the Jury found he died as a result of suicide whilst suffering from psychosis, and that his death was contributed to by neglect as a result of the failure to treat his psychosis. A consultant psychiatrist gave evidence at the inquest that the conditions of Daryl’s detention contributed to a further deterioration in his mental health problems. The Coroner indicated she remained ‘gravely concerned’ and issued a lengthy Prevention of Future Deaths report.
- I am also instructed by a family following a further death in September 2016 and the inquest is due to be heard later in 2017.
- I am currently instructed by a number of bereaved families following deaths involving potential failings on the part of healthcare staff at HMP Thameside. One of these cases involved the death of Darren McConnell in December 2014. The inquest into Darren’s death in March 2016 examined a number of failings in the care provided to him as he was being stabalised on Methadone upon his reception into the prison. CCTV showed that two Healthcare Assistants failed to carry out half-hourly vital signs checks, and falsified records to state they had carried out basic welfare checks. The Jury concluded the overall quality of care during the brief time Darren was in prison fell significantly below acceptable practice and his death was contributed to by neglect
Derek Richards (deceased)
- I assisted Derek’s aunt during the inquest into his death at Bethlem Hospital on 19th May 2012. The jury found that Derek’s death as a result of a methadone and diazepam overdose followed multiple failures by the hospital including inadequate training, lack of communication, poor record keeping and incorrect prescribing of medication.
Tony Doherty (deceased)
- I assisted Tony’s family during the inquest into his death at HMP Wormwood Scrubs in December 2010. The jury found that Tony took his own life, and his death was contributed to by systemic deficiencies. The Jury felt these deficiencies reflected potential weaknesses in the training and management of staff.
Private Jason Smith (deceased)
- I assisted the mother of Private Smith during the second Inquest into his death which occurred whilst he was on active service in Iraq in 2003. Following the Inquest I helped to secure an apology and compensation from the Ministry of Defence as a result of the failings in the care given to Private Smith.
Notable Cases – Police Actions
- I represented a woman subjected to a strip search without adequate justification by male police officers and helped her to win £37,000 in damages from the Metropolitan Police.
- I represented a man who had been falsely accused of sexual assault by a police officer and helped him to obtain compensation for false imprisonment, assault and misfeasance in public office.
- I represented a man who was briefly detained unlawfully by Police Officers. His face was hit into a flint wall whilst being detained. He suffered facial scarring and I helped him obtain compensation for assault.
Notable Cases – Personal Injury
- I have represented a number of clients in personal injury claims and have obtained compensations for clients in road traffic accidents, who have been injured at work and those who have had pavement trips.
Membership & Appointments
- Member of INQUEST Lawyers Group Steering Group (ILGSG). I have a particular interest in public funding for bereaved families at inquests. I am involved in monitoring problems encountered and liaising with the Legal Aid Agency. I have also provided training on inquest funding to other practitioners.
- INQUEST Lawyers Group (ILG)
- Police Action Lawyers Group (PALG)
- I oversee Hodge Jones & Allen’s Action Against the Police clinics at Medway and Maidstone Citizens Advice Bureaus