PM to meet Corfu gas death family in legal aid fight


A family refused legal aid for the inquest on their children who died from carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday are to meet David Cameron.

Robert Shepherd, six, and Christianne, seven, of Horbury, West Yorkshire, died from a faulty boiler in Corfu in 2006.

Their parents Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood have been refused funding for legal representation at the inquest.

The Legal Aid Agency said inquests were designed so that legal expertise was not always required.

Mr Cameron’s agreed to meet the family after the issue was raised by the family’s local MP, Mary Creagh, during Prime Minister’s Questions.

‘Exceptional circumstances’

The two children were overcome by fumes from a faulty gas boiler while on holiday at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Gouvia, with their father and his partner Ruth Beatson.

Mr Shepherd and Ms Beatson were both left in a coma as a result of the accident, but survived.

Tour operator Thomas Cook was cleared of responsibility in relation to the deaths and awarded £1m in damages by the High Court in 2013.

The manager of the hotel and two other members of staff were convicted of manslaughter.

A full inquest into the deaths is to take place in January.

A spokesman for the Legal Aid Agency said: “Generally legal aid for representation at an inquest can only be granted in very exceptional circumstances where published criteria are met.

“Lawyers are not usually required at inquests as the hearings are specifically designed so people without legal knowledge can easily participate and understand what is happening.”