Mother of Alexia Walenkaki to appeal after legal aid request denied

Alexia Walenkaki
Alexia Walenkaki died when a rotting playground swing collapsed on her in Mile End park in July 2015. Photograph: Family handout

A woman whose daughter died whilst playing in a Tower Hamlets Park is appealing against the decision to reject her request for legal aid.

Alexia Walenkaki, 5, was playing on a rope swing in Mile End Park on 17 July 2015 when the tree trunk it was attached to collapsed and fell onto her. She died a few hours later in the Royal London Hospital.

The inquest into Alexia’s death, which was due to take place in April, has been adjourned until 16 January 2017.

The adjournment allows Metropolitan Police and the Health and Safety Executive to investigate Tower Hamlets Council’s role in the tragedy, and decide whether to prosecute the local authority for corporate or gross negligence manslaughter.

Alexia’s mother, Vida Kwotuah, told the BBC that the “complex” case was “unmanageable without representation”, and is appealing against the decision to deny legal aid for the inquest.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said: “We are currently considering an appeal from the family and will make a final decision on whether to provide legal aid in due course.

“Legal aid can only be granted where the case meets the requirements for funding which have been set in law.”

Legal aid can be granted on public interest grounds, or by invoking Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the “right to life”.

Applicants are also assessed according to their earnings and the type of case.

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said: “The joint investigation by police and the Health and Safety Executive is ongoing, and we will have to wait for their report.”

The outcome of the joint investigation is due to be made public at the end of July.


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