The story of Beverley Clarke, who is pursuing a case against the Ministry of Defence after her 19-year-old son David was killed by friendly fire, is yet another example of how this Conservative government is punishing working people.
The main criticism levelled at George Osborne’s cuts to tax credits is that they punish people in work. The Labour Party have labelled them the ‘work penalty’ as they hit working families for doing, as shadow chancellor John McDonnell said yesterday, “everything asked of them, going to work, raising their children.”
Beverley Clarke’s plight is further proof that the Tories aren’t on the side of the people they claim to represent.
The Observer reported on Sunday that the previously unemployed Mother’s case is in jeopardy because she lost her legal aid after she took on a shop job. What makes this all the more tragically ironic is that she took the low-paid job to comply with welfare laws that oblige benefits claimants to look for work.
As Jamie Doward’s article explains:
“Under the previous system, Clarke could have obtained a specialist form of insurance to protect her if she lost the case and had to pay the MoD’s legal bill. But the market for this type of insurance has dried up and drastic cuts to legal aid mean she no longer qualifies for funding, even though the job she has taken pays a low wage.”
The removal of legal aid puts this landmark case at risk. On her crowdfunding page, Clarke says that she and her legal team are attempting to use the case to create a legal obligation for the armed forces to adequately train all recruits before combat and to be accountable to the victims and families when training has not been good enough.
Clearly this is a potentially groundbreaking case which carries huge significance for families of those in the armed forces who sacrifice their lives to protect our country.
Yet, again we are seeing the very people that this government wants to be seen to be on the side of, finding themselves the victims of its cruel cuts agenda.
Just as its welfare cuts punish the poorest in society, so too are its legal aid cuts making our once cherished justice system become, as Clarke’s lawyer John Hendy QC accurately puts it, the domain of only “corporations and the very rich”.
I wish Beverley well with her fundraising efforts but it’s frankly unacceptable that she should have to resort to such desperate measures just because she has a low-paid job. So much for the party of working people.