The parents of Bobby and Christi Shepherd have been granted legal aid so that they can hear the truth about how their children died in Corfu.
An inquest into the children’s death is due to be heard next year and it will be the first time the full facts of the tragedy, which happened at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in October 2006, have been heard in a British Court.
Both Christi, aged seven, and her six-year-old brother Bobby, were killed by carbon monoxide fumes that seeped in to the chalet where they were staying with their father Neil Shepherd and his wife Ruth.
Without legal aid Bobby and Christi’s family would not have had the same legal representation as tour operator Thomas Cook - the firm the fatal half term holiday was booked through.
The Wakefield Express launched the #TimeForTheTruth campaign to help their fight to get legal aid.
We took the fight to Downing Street and called on Prime Minister David Cameron to overturn the decision not to grant legal aid funding to the families of Bobby and Christi Shepherd to allow them to be legally represented at hearing
And thousands of you, our readers, signed our petition calling for the justice minister to rethink the decision - and they listened.
The children’s parents, Sharon Wood and her husband Paul, and their father Neil Shepherd and his wife Ruth, met with the Prime Minister and handed in our petition.
Today Legal Aid Minister Shailesh Vara announced legal aid has been granted.
He said: “This is a very tragic case in which two young children lost their lives and my deepest sympathies are with the family, with whom the Prime Minister and I recently met. Questions remain unanswered and I have therefore authorised legal aid for representation at the inquest to hopefully provide much needed answers.”
Coroner David Hinchliff also supported the family’s fight for legal aid funding saying it is the only way a fair, thorough and fearless inquest can take place.
The children’s mum Mrs Wood said: “We’re delighted that we have finally been granted legal aid. We always knew that there was an overwhelming public interest for the lessons of our tragedy to be learned so that no other family suffers as we have. Legal representation at the inquest will give us the chance to hear the truth of what happened on that terrible day in 2006 when we lost our children.
“We want to thank everyone in Wakefield, including the Wakefield Express, our wonderful solicitor Fiona Borrill of Lester Morrill and our fantastic MP Mary Creagh who have supported our campaign and backed us all the way.”
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh backed our campaign and supported the parents throughout their fight. She said: “I am absolutely delighted that after years of heartbreak and fighting for justice, Neil and Sharon have finally been granted legal aid. Today is a big victory for everyone who supported their campaign but the family should never have been put in this position.
“After seven agonising years, the inquest into Christi and Bobby’s deaths will finally start next year and the family will now have legal support to hear the full facts in a British court for the first time.”
The families’ solicitor Fiona Borrill, of Leeds based firm Lester Morrill, also said it had been a long fight to get the decision overturned.
She said: “We are delighted that the families have finally been granted funding and that they will be legally represented at the inquest so that the full circumstances of the appalling tragedy will be examined and hopefully lesson will be learnt.”
The half-term holiday had been booked through Thomas Cook.
In 2010 two employees of the holiday firm were cleared of any wrongdoing but the manager of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel and two other staff were convicted of manslaughter.
The inquest is due to start in Wakefield next January.