THE INQUEST into the Shoreham Airshow Disaster will look at whether state failings contributed to the 11 men's deaths.

West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield has extended the scope of the delayed inquest to look at whether the government or industry watchdog the Civil Aviation Authority should have had measures in place to prevent the tragedy.

The decision gives fresh hope to the families of the victims as the Ministry of Justice confirmed they would review the decision by the Legal Aid Agency to refuse the vicim's families leagl aid.

The news comes as the inquest was delayed until next year while criminal proceedings against pilot Andrew Hill conclude.

The 54-year-old, of Hertfordshire, will face charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and an offence under air navigation laws when he appears in court next month.

James Healy-Pratt, head of aviation at Stewarts Law, who is representing some of the families by working pro bono, welcomed the ruling but described the legal aid battle so far as "like trying to get blood out of a stone."

He said: "It seems (the LAA) is doing everything in its power to avoid access to justice. This is down to bureaucrats who are more interested in their budgets than the interests of ordinary people."

He said the coroner's direction came as a result of a legal application he made to extend the reach of the inquest under article two of the European Convention of Human Rights.

In considering state responsibility, the inquiry will now also consider the role of industry watchdog the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) among other areas, he added.

An MoJ spokesman said: "We will review the decision when in receipt of the written ruling from the coroner and any further information from representatives. Any decision will follow that."

The Department for Transport is reviewing how the industry is regulated following recommendations made by the Air Accident Investigations Branch in its report last year.

Leslye Polito, 65, of Goring, who lost her 23-year-old son Daniele in the crash, said: "We hope common sense prevails and we get some good news soon."

Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove, where victims Tony Brightwell and Richard Smith lived, said it was a "complete disgrace" legal aid had not already been granted, adding: "I simply don't know why it's taking more than five minutes to make this decision.

"It brings into question what society we have become. The families should be front and centre every step of the way."

Deborah Coles, executive director of charity INQUEST which supports families facing such inquiries, said it was "cruel and unfair" to expect relatives to follow proceedings and understand complex law without representation, adding: "It's only right we fund the families."