Court intervenes in Keane Wallis-Bennett school wall death inquiry funding

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Keane BennettImage source, facebook
Image caption,
Keane Wallis-Bennett was fatally injured when a changing room wall collapsed on her

A sheriff said the court is going to write to the legal aid watchdog after she heard it had not yet approved a request to fund the parents at an inquiry into the death of a schoolgirl.

Sheriff Principal Mhairi Stephen said she hoped this "would focus minds" at the legal aid board.

Keane Wallis-Bennett, 12, died when a PE block modesty wall at Liberton High School fell in April 2014.

No criminal charges are to be brought, however a FAI will be held.

Procedural hearing

The case was continued to another procedural hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 18 May 2017.

The fatal accident inquiry is due to take place at the court in June 2017.

Solicitor John Fotheringham, who represents the family, said: "It seems to me that they are taking the view that the parents do not need to be represented at all which is remarkable."

Mr Fotheringham made the comments during a procedural hearing at the court.

The Crown Office said it was in the public interest to hold an inquiry to help avoid such an incident happening again.

Keane's death prompted the City of Edinburgh Council to order urgent checks at schools across the city.

The case was also investigated by police and the Health and Safety Executive under the direction of the Crown Office's health and safety division.

The Crown have also announced that no criminal charges were to be brought against anybody involved in the incident.

However, the Crown also announced an inquiry will be held at the sheriff court to investigate the circumstances surrounding Keane's death.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said: "We have not yet received an application with the required evidence to allow us to grant legal aid in this case.

"We have been in contact with the nominated solicitor about this and explained what is required.

"We have previously granted two special urgency applications to cover representation at initial hearings within 24 hours of having received them.

"We would contest that any delay in this process has been the fault of the Scottish Legal Aid Board."

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