Marcia Willis Stewart, KC, acted for the Perry family in the inquest into the death of the headteacher Ruth Perry. The coroner made the most damning findings against OFSTED and the system of inspection, together with the manner in which it was carried out. She found that it had contributed towards the death of the headteacher.
This is a landmark case of national importance. Nonetheless, Ruth Perry’s family were refused legal aid only days before the beginning of the inquest. Fortunately, they were able to raise sufficient money through crowdfunding to pay their legal costs. Otherwise, they would have had to represent themselves against OFSTED, the Berkshire local education, authority, and the regional NHS mental health trust, all of whom had experienced legal teams defending them.
Marcia Willis Stewart KC stated:
“HM Coroner made it clear at the beginning of her conclusions that the family would have been significantly disadvantaged without legal representation”. The family application for public funding was refused albeit Ruth Perry’s death raised “significant wider public interest”. The Coroner’s judgment has brought to the fore the inequality of arms, where public bodies receive funding from the public purse whilst the bereaved are left to fend for themselves.