Barristers and solicitors are today staging protests outside courts in England and Wales in response to proposed government cuts to legal aid
The Minister of Justice, Chris Grayling announced plans in September to slash legal aid fees by up to 30%. The cuts are being phased in from April this year.
Today’s demonstrations seek to get Grayling to think again about the changes that will mean criminal lawyers not being willing to take on cases and affect legal cover for innocent people.
Paula Porter, head of criminal law at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Today’s action seeks to highlight just how savage the proposed cuts are. It is a direct call to Grayling to review his reforms and take on board the views of those on the front line not those in a political ivory tower.
“Lawyers and barristers are taking a united front. The government says it’s about pay cuts and quote the highest paid as typical examples when they are, of course, nothing of the sort.
“These savage cuts will mean on the one hand innocent people will not get proper representation and on the other that criminals will walk free from court because the legal system has been so over-stretched it can no longer provide the services demanded of it.
“If, as a Society, we believe people are innocent until proven guilty (at Thompsons 96% of our clients are not convicted) then we need a system that allows the thousands of innocent ordinary working people who get caught up in the court system to have proper representation. A legal system unable to support or represent those in need will not deliver justice.
“Miscarriages of justice have occurred in the past under the current regime, I fear far far more if Grayling doesn’t listen."