Widow ‘Horrified’ at Legal Aid Costs for Killers of British Policeman: ‘Not Fair’

August 28, 2020 Updated: August 29, 2020

The widow of PC Andrew Harper, the British policeman killed when he was dragged behind a getaway car in August 2019, has spoken out against the reported legal aid costs his three killers were awarded for their legal defense.

Reacting to The Daily Mail’s reporting on Thursday that her husband’s three killers collectively received £465,000 ($617,000) in legal aid funding for their defense, Lissie Harper said in a statement, “This just doesn’t seem right or fair.”

“Not only did we not get justice for Andrew, we now know the cost of that injustice,” she said.

“I am sure the public—whose support for me has been unstinting—will be as horrified as I am to know how much money is going towards paying this trio’s escalating legal costs.”

Right to Representation

In the UK you have the right to apply for free legal representation in court for criminal cases if you are on a low income or in receipt of certain state benefits.

If your income is £12,475 ($16,605) per year, or less, you will always be granted legal aid for such cases.

Epoch Times Photo
The coat of arms of the City of London (L) is pictured on the street sign for “Old Bailey”, where the Central Criminal Court, commonly referred to as The Old Bailey, is situated in central London on Aug. 21, 2016. (Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ministry of Justice said that the legal aid granted to the teenagers had gone straight to their legal teams.

“These offenders did not [directly] receive a penny of legal aid—it went to lawyers to ensure a fair trial,” a Ministry of Justice spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, told The Epoch Times, “An important pillar of our criminal justice system is that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial and for that to happen they need access to a proper defence.

“To preserve access to justice and the rule of law, legal representation must be available to those without the means to provide it.”

Harper’s Law

Harper, backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales, has mounted a campaign in her deceased husband’s name called “Harper’s Law” to fight for harsher sentencing for the convicted killers of emergency services workers following the conviction of her husband’s killers for manslaughter.

Harper has now secured a meeting with Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss her campaign.

PC Harper’s three killers, Henry Long, 19, Albert Bowers, 18, and Jessie Cole, 18, were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter at London’s Old Bailey in July.

Long, who was driving the getaway car, was sentenced to 16 years in prison while Cole and Bowers, the two passengers in the car, were both sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The Ministry of Justice explained that judges do have to take into account the victim’s occupation when sentencing criminals.

“Our Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act means judges must also consider tougher sentences for more serious offenses—such as manslaughter, GBH or sexual assault—if the victim was an emergency worker,” a Ministry of Justice spokesperson told The Epoch Times.

Sentence Review

The Attorney General Suella Braverman announced last week that she believes the sentences are too low. She has sent the sentences of the three killers to the Court of Appeal for review under the UK’s Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme.

“Having personally considered the details of this shocking case, I have decided to refer the sentences of PC Andrew Harper’s killers to the Court of Appeal,” she said in a statement.

“This was a horrific crime which resulted in the death of a much-respected police officer while he was on-duty, protecting his community. Attacks made against emergency workers will not be tolerated and offenders should be punished with the greatest severity for such heinous crimes,” she said.

In his comments at sentencing in July, the judge, Mr. Justice Edis, described the killers as “young, unintelligent, but professional criminals” who were “in the habit of going out thieving in cars at night.”

“In Long’s case it was his only source of income, he never having done an honest day’s work in his life, or, it seems, ever thought that he should,” Edis said.

Bowers and Cole last week reportedly lodged applications with the Court of Appeal requesting permission to challenge their convictions and prison sentences.

A date for the hearing at the Court of Appeal is yet to be set.

‘Catastrophic’ Injuries

PC Harper was killed on Aug. 15 last year while still at work several hours after his scheduled finishing time, according to trial documents.

As they were the closest officers on duty at the time, he and a colleague responded to a late-night report about the theft of a quad bike.

He had inadvertently become entangled in a looped strap coming from the boot of the getaway car that had been used to tow the stolen quad bike.

He died of the “catastrophic” injuries he sustained when he was dragged by the ankles for around a mile and “swung from side to side like a pendulum in an effort to dislodge him,” the trial documents said.

PC Harper was 28 at the time of his death and had been married to Lissie Harper for four weeks.