Care home residents denied legal aid – by typing error

Care home work of campaigning solicitor put at risk by licensing authority's ruling

A solicitor who has battled for years on behalf of disabled and elderly residents of care homes has been told she will get no legal aid work in the coming year – because of a typing error.

It means that her practice must choose between working for no money, finding other solicitors to take on its casework, or abandoning clients who are not able to defend themselves at a time when local councils are planning huge government-imposed cutbacks.

Yvonne Hossack has earned widespread recognition from campaign bodies such as Age Concern and Help the Age, while at the same time angering local councils, which tried to have her struck off two years ago.

The latest blow to her practice came in a letter from the Legal Services Commission, telling her that every one of her applications for legal aid contracts, which it administers, had been denied. The refusal has triggered suspicion that the authorities have found a new way to rid themselves of a campaigner who has created endless trouble for councils seeking to save money.

Ms Hossack has requested an interview with the commission, with a warning that cutting her firm off from legal aid is an attack on the rights of care home residents.

"We act for the most profoundly disabled people, from children to centenarians, [visiting] our clients in their own homes. There are very few solicitors providing such a service and certainly not enough to service the needs," she says in her letter. "It is in the public domain that some of our clients have been saved from suicide by having me as their solicitor. Many are at extreme risk of death from matters happening to them right now that are being litigated."

Ms Hossack is credited with saving at least 80 care homes from closure, but her unorthodox methods provoked Northamptonshire, Hull and Staffordshire councils to bring a case against her in an attempt to have her struck off. At a hearing in September 2009, Ms Hossack was cleared of professional misconduct. Alan Johnson, then the Home Secretary, was among the witnesses supporting her.

Chris Kinsey, from Kettering, whose daughter is disabled, said: "I just knew that if they couldn't get her one way, they would find another."

Lynne Scully, who runs the Medicall private nursing home in Manchester, said: "I have observed Yvonne Hossack talking to children with complex needs and severe communication problems. [She] is caring and compassionate and understands the process. I am sure there is politics at work. Yvonne gets over one obstacle and another is placed in her way."

Sources at the Ministry of Justice confirmed that Ms Hossack's applications for legal aid contracts had been turned down because of a typing error. Applications have to specify the area in which the applicant is practising, but the specialised nature of Ms Hossack's work means that she represent clients from all over Britain.

She submitted 125 applications. because of an error in her office the word "Wiltshire" appeared on all of them, which was the ground on which 124 were rejected. The 125th, which covered Wiltshire, was refused because her office is in Northamptonshire.



PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London