Leeds & West Yorkshire

PM to meet Corfu gas death family in legal aid fight

Robert and Christianne Shepherd Image copyright PA
Image caption Robert and Christianne Shepherd were overcome by fumes from a faulty gas boiler while on holiday in Corfu in 2006

A family whose children died from carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday are to meet David Cameron after being refused legal aid for an inquest.

Robert Shepherd, six, and Christianne, seven, of Horbury, West Yorkshire, were killed by fumes 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 lawyers were not usually required at inquests.

Mr Cameron has 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."

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