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Freddie for action Killer Freddie Thompson takes High Court case against Legal Aid Board over refusal to pay legal costs

Thompson claims that the board's refusal amounts to an error in law and it has acted unreasonably.


Freddie Thompson

Freddie Thompson

Freddie Thompson

Convicted criminal Freddie Thompson has brought a High Court action over the Legal Aid Board's refusal to pay his legal costs for a case he took in 2019 over the conditions of his detention.

Thompson, from Dublin's south inner city, is serving a life sentence he received following his 2018 conviction for the murder of David Douglas, at Portlaoise Prison.

In 2019 Thompson brought judicial review proceedings against the prison authorities over what he claimed were the oppressive conditions of his detention for some 18 months in the prison's A4-wing, which is known as the punishment block.

The Prison Service, the Prison Governor and the Minister for Justice opposed Thompson's action and said Thompson's then prison regime was due to "security concerns."

That matter, which was before the court on several occasions, was eventually withdrawn in November 2019 after Thompson was moved by the prison authorities from the isolation block and placed with the mainstream prison population.

The respondents did not accept that the move came about due to Thompson's legal action.

In his latest proceedings, Thompson claims that after his 2019 case was struck out, a High Court judge made a recommendation that his legal fees should be covered by the Legal Aid (custody Issue) Scheme.

In a decision in August 2020, which was repeated in March 2021 following a request to reconsider the initial decision, the Legal Aid Board refused to discharge Mr Thompson's legal fees.

The reason for its refusal was that Thompson did not qualify for the scheme as he had already been convicted, sentenced ,and had lost his liberty.

Thompson claims that the board's refusal amounts to an error in law and it has acted unreasonably.

The board, he also claims, has also failed to interpret the Legal Aid (Custody Issue) Scheme in the same manner as judges of the High Court at both the leave and conclusion of his 2019 action.

Arising out of that, Thompson, represented by Micheal O Higgins SC, with Keith Spencer BL, has brought judicial review proceedings against the board and Ireland and the Attorney General.

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He seeks an order quashing the board's refusal to pay his legal fees, or his subsequent application to reconsider that decision.

He further seeks several declarations including that the board decision amounts to a breach of fair procedures, was made after irrelevant considerations were taken into account, and is in breach of his constitutional European Convention rights.

He further seeks a declaration that the Legal Aid Custody Scheme is constitutionally deficient and unfit for purpose.

This it is claimed is because the scheme fails to provide a facility for obtaining confirmation in advance that an applicant's case will be covered, and allows the board overrule a High Court judges finding that a case meets the scheme's eligibility criteria.

Permission to bring the action was granted, on a one side only represented basis, by Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. It comes back in October.

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