Mark Groves CEO speaks to BBC Radio 5 Live

Extract from the BBC website, the full article can be found here

Listen to the whole program

Domestic abuse victims in England have been unable to get emergency court orders stopping their abusers from harming them, an organisation has said.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence said 6,000 victims were denied free legal representation last year.

Legal Aid applicants for non-molestation orders are means tested and often told to pay towards the cost.

The government said it was making it easier for domestic violence victims to prove they needed Legal Aid.

Family home

The National Centre for Domestic Violence told BBC Radio 5 live Investigates that the problem arises when they appear to have money or assets of their own.

It said too many women were turned away because they appeared to own assets or savings that were actually under the control of their abusers.

Mark Groves, who is the company’s chief executive said: “While many people think Legal Aid is free, it is not, you have to pay a means-tested contribution.

“Economic abuse victims who don’t control their money may not have this [and] those who have fled the family home may not have the right documentation.

“If you own a house, you have to put down a cash deposit equal to the equity in that house, which could be hundreds of thousands,” he explained.

Mum-of-two Alice, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, was granted legal aid to secure a non-molestation order after she told police about years of violence inflicted by her husband.

But after getting the injunction she said the Legal Aid Agency got back in touch to say she had not qualified for free legal representation and she was handed the bill.

“I got a letter saying the injunction would cost me £6,000,” she said.

“I was in tears when they told me, it was a complete shock.

“The only way I’d be able to pay that money was to get a loan I couldn’t afford, or to sell my house and move back in with my mum,” she added.

Alice is now appealing against the decision but said if she had known from the outset she would have to pay she would not have proceeded.

She added: “If I was told that I’d have to pay £6,000 I’d never have gone through with the process, and I’d have had no choice in letting my abuser back into my life.”