Press Release – October 2023
A leading Yorkshire law firm that specialises in representing bereaved families at inquests has secured a contract to enable them to expand the types of inquests that they can deal with (including deaths involving police contact and within the prison service) in addition to taking on civil claims against public authorities including the police and local authorities.
Ison Harrison has secured the LAA CAPA contract (Claims Against Public Authorities) enabling the firm to represent people in situations where they feel they have been mistreated by a public authority such as the police or local authority. Ison Harrison is one of only a handful of firms in the region and 71 nationwide to hold a CAPA contract.
The securing of the contract has widened the scope of the publicly funded work the firm can do in helping victims gain access to justice and has led to significant growth within the team. The PI, Inquest and Civil Liberties team has an experienced and specialist human rights and inquest team that collectively has over 80 years experience in this area.
Prior to securing the contract, the firm was only able to offer public funding for cases involving medical negligence and deaths both in inpatient mental health care and when they were under the care of the community mental health team. CAPA accreditation allows Ison Harrison to offer a comprehensive service to clients requiring legal representation for inquests and actions against public authorities.
Ison Harrison is currently representing a 16-year-old girl after she was arrested for allegedly making a homophobic remark to a female police officer. The girl was released from custody and faced no further action after her mother informed West Yorkshire Police that she was autistic. The girl also has physical disabilities, which meant she should not have been physically handled in a certain way during her arrest. A video uploaded to TikTok by her mother showed the incident with the autistic teenager being detained by seven officers outside her home in Leeds.
Leading the firm’s PI, Inquests and Civil Liberties team is director Gareth Naylor. With over 22 years experience, Gareth specialises in high value and complex cases. He is a proud member of the INQUEST Lawyers Group. Hugely experienced in dealing with all types of claims such as road traffic accidents, accidents at work and occupier’s and public liability claims, Gareth has also dealt with more unusual and complex personal injury claims involving sexual assault, product liability and an accident aboard a vessel, which was heard by the Admiralty Division of the High Court.
Gareth represents bereaved families at inquests, including those with a jury. He recently represented the families of Matthew Harter Dale and Deseree Fitzpatrick, both of whom were vulnerable adults and died whilst under the care of The Priory.
Alongside Gareth in the team is Gemma Vine, associate and specialist inquest solicitor with vast experience of representing bereaved families at inquests, specifically those involving veterans and deaths involving mental health and multi-agencies. Gemma also has experience in pursuing complaints against the police. She has over a decade of experience in CAPA cases including representing the family of Kesia Leatherbarrow, whose death in 2013 was one of three that resulted in a change to the law relating to PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984), whereby 17-year-olds were previously treated as adults and not children. This led to the creation of Kesia’s Law, an amendment made to the Criminal Justice & Courts Bill which closed a historic legal anomaly.
Ruth Bundey, one of the most experienced inquest lawyers in the UK, began working on inquests in the nineties when young prisoners were inappropriately housed in Leeds Adult Prison, leading to a spate of deaths. She has represented families involved in the Hillsborough Disaster and continues to work alongside the sister of Christopher Alder who died on the floor of Hull Police Station in 1998, where there have been further revelations over the years after it was discovered that his body was still in the mortuary years after his purported burial. These cases were dealt with when the firm previously held a contract for such work, thanks to valued colleague, now sadly deceased, Simon Purchas. Ruth is currently involved in a variety of deaths in psychiatric establishments.
Ison Harrison’s CAPA contracts team is completed by Graham Roberts, a personal injury specialist in abuse claims, Megan Spurr, trainee solicitor and Natalie Marrison, an experienced senior solicitor has also recently joined the firm as a result of the contract award. Natalie has a wealth of experience in abuse, serious injury and clinical negligence and will further enhance the team with her knowledge and experience.
Gareth Naylor said:
The team has put a tremendous amount of work into securing this contract which is the icing on the cake in what is shaping up to be our most successful year in our history.
Previously we have only been able to secure public funding for inquests that involved medical negligence and when the death involved mental health services. Now we can secure public funding for a wide range of victims of injustice. We have developed a very strong team of experienced lawyers who can assist such victims. We offer representation second to none in this complex and niche area of law which is fantastic for our employee-owned business which continues to grow as we open our 18th office in Doncaster.
Public authorities, including the police, have a duty of care to the public, but when it is felt that this has been breached it can be a daunting prospect to seek a form of justice and many people will feel intimidated.
In such cases, it is very easy for public authorities to employ delay tactics and to make the issue overly complex so that people eventually feel helpless and give up. However, Ison Harrison believes everyone has a right to justice and the securing of this CAPA contract is a significant step forward in our quest to provide the most comprehensive range of specialist legal services throughout Yorkshire.
Ison Harrison was founded in 1978. With an annual turnover of over £20 million, the firm has become a well-known regional practice offering the broadest range of legal services to thousands of people and businesses. The firm became a 100% employee-owned business in early 2022 after the three shareholder directors agreed to sell the business to an Employee Ownership Trust.
Ison Harrison currently holds 13 Law Society accreditations including Conveyancing Quality, Clinical Negligence, Children Law, Family Law, Immigration & Asylum, and SRA Higher Courts Rights – civil and criminal.