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Rape accused granted legal aid

A man accused of rape has been granted legal aid to fund a family court fight for contact with his son after human rights concerns were raised by a leading judge.

Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, had expressed fears that the man's right to a fair trial and to respect for family life might be breached if he could not get access to legal advice.

He had suggested that public money allotted to fund courts and court staff might be used to cover the man's family court bills if legal aid was not available.

The judge today said the man had now been granted legal aid on an "exceptional case" basis.

Detail of the development emerged in a written ruling by Sir James following the latest in a series of hearings in a family court in London.

Sir James, president of the Family Division of the High Court, did not identify the man, the child or the child's mother.

He said the man's son had been born in 2013.

Family court proceedings had started in October, when the man applied to have contact with the little boy.

Sir James said the boy's mother had accused the man of rape a nd he said the man had been charged with rape and attempted rape, had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial.

The mother had said she "could not contemplate" being questioned directly by the man at a family court hearing.

Sir James had - earlier this year - raised funding concerns about the cases of three men involved in family court litigation.

A second case featured a convicted paedophile who wanted contact with his son.

A third involved another man who had been accused of rape and wanted contact with his daughter.

Sir James has also recently raised funding concerns about a separate case in which a couple are fighting to stop their two-year-old son being adopted.

He said he was ''profoundly'' disturbed by the fact that the couple did not qualify for legal aid but did not have enough money to pay for legal representation.


From Belfast Telegraph