“If I was in prison today, I would never get legal aid, I would rot in prison even though they knew I was innocent. They [politicians] don’t care about us. They only care about themselves. These cuts [to legal aid] will cause a lot more miscarriages of justice and a lot more money from the public to be paid when those judgments are overturned.”
SAVE LEGAL AID SIGN THE PETITION http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-uk-government-save-legal-aid-to-protect-access-to-justice-for-all
23 Years ago today Paddy Hill formerly known as one of the Birmingham Six, now the founder of the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation was released. Since then he has fought to help other victims of miscarriages of justice. On 7 March 2014 he joined the demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament to protest against the current cuts to legal aid. Speaking from his own personal experience he warned about the impact of the cuts and the fear that there would be an increase in those wrongfully imprisoned.
[YouTube clip of Paddy Hill speaking outside the Old Bailey after the release of the Birmingham Six – Paddy Joe Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter, Billy Power and Johnny Walker, who between them have served 96 years for a crime they did not commit]
Paddy spent almost 17 years of wrongful incarceration, for the Birmingham Pub bombing on 21 November 1974 in which 21 people were killed. Prior to his arrest, Paddy went to Heysham Police Station on his own free will where he was told right from the start, quote ” we don’t give a fuck who did the bombings, we have orders to get confessions and convictions and to use any necessary means at our disposal, you have been selected, you can have it the easy way or the hard way”. Proper legal representation both at the police station and for the duration of criminal trials is under threat due to cuts to legal aid. Paddy Hill warned that the inexperience of his lawyer played a key part in his wrongful conviction. He said that instead of cutting Legal Aid the government should be putting money into “ensuring we protect innocent people from going to prison. That way hopefully we can get the best Legal Aid Defence Solicitors, not some junior legal aid clerk.”
After the demonstration outside Parliament, Paddy Hill lead the crowd on a march to Liberal Democrat HQ where he handed in a letter to Nick Clegg MP warning that the cuts to legal aid will make it more difficult for an accused person to get proper representation. The Liberal Democrats passed a near unanimous vote at their party conference in favour of halting (pausing) cuts to legal aid. However the LibDem leadership has failed to stand up to Justice Minister, Chris Grayling MP and appear to be ignoring the will of their own party and supporters.
Paddy, pictured below holding the letter, said that the results of the cuts will mean that more innocent people will go to jail. In his letter to Nick Clegg he said that the legal aid cuts are a ‘disgrace’. Paddy was joined by representatives of over 100 charities, unions and campaign groups of the Justice Alliance who delivered their testimonials to Nick Clegg demanding that the party stay the proposed cuts to legal aid.
“The cuts the government are making to the legal aid are a disgrace. The results of these cuts will mean that more innocent people will go to jail. It seems that they do not learn from the past. It was bad representation that [got] me wrongly convicted. The solicitor that represented me…was totally out of his depth…they should ensur[e] we protect innocent people from going to prison.”
The lawyers then marched to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), where a group of the protestors – again led by Paddy Hill – took over the ground floor of the building, chanting ‘Grayling must go, legal aid must stay.’ Ironically and to the amusement of onlookers, security would not let the giant puppet Grayling into the MoJ.
Join Paddy Hill and SIGN THE PETITION http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-cameron-uk-government-save-legal-aid-to-protect-access-to-justice-for-all