Unprecedented Unified action by solicitors, barristers, charities and community groups

Justice Alliance holds protest against attacks on access to justice to mark the unprecedented unified national day of action by barristers and solicitors against further legal aid cuts

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 Nigel Lithman QC: Paedophiles and rapists will go free if legal aid is cut, the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association has warned as thousands of lawyers have staged an unprecedented walkout at courts in England and Wales. Nigel Lithman QC accused the Government of “fabricating” figures to support the cuts legal proceedings across the country faced disruption from the “strike”.

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Professor Ben Bowling, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at King’s College London School of Law: “Legal aid is essential to providing access to justice for everyone, and is especially important in cases where the state – such as the police, prison and government officials – exceeds or abuses its powers against people. Cuts in legal aid will deny justice to the most vulnerable people in our society.

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Sue Willman, human rights solicitor at Deighton Pierce Glynn: “Do politicians understand that the main victims of the residence test will be the poorest and most vulnerable people in the UK?  To name a few, clients who are disabled, have long term illnesses and mental health needs, pregnant women and children. Legal aid has been their safety net. ” Read here SPEECH HERE

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Dr Judith Freeman, Psychiatrist and head of the Consortium of Expert Witnesses.

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Pragna Patel, Southall Black Sisters: “The new proposals will exacerbate problems of access to justice for women who experience violence and abuse since it builds on an already problematic and discriminatory LASPO regime. The residence test for example, will exclude vulnerable categories such as migrant women and children subject to domestic violence and trafficking from accessing legal aid for a range of inter-related matters necessary for their protection. The residence test will lead to fundamental breaches of the human rights of vulnerable women and children who are entitled to equal protection under the Government’s own policies and strategies on violence against women and under international human rights law and standards including those on discrimination and violence against women.”

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Ian Lawrence, NAPO, “The Probation Service is facing a situation where the government wants to sell off the management of offenders to the highest bidder. This will result in chaos and confusion. The plans are flawed and took a turn for the worse when SERCO and G4S were out of the bidding. NAPO is securing increasing political support in the House of Commons and House of Lords to amend damaging legislation. Our recent success means there is all to play for against the weak coalition. My message is short and sharp, there should be no place for private profit in our justice system. It is the envy of the world and one that needs to be nurtured and protected. NAPO wishes the legal profession all the best in the future campaign. We can make a difference.”

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Patrick Maguire, Maguire 7

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Karen Buck MP

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Gary McKinnon’s mother, Janis Sharp ”Without legal aid solicitors keeping my son Gary in this country until his freedom could be won, I have no doubt that Gary would have taken his own life rather than be taken in chains to the US and removed from his home, his family and all he has ever known.  Cuts to criminal legal aid would affect generations to come: your children, your grandchildren and their grandchildren, and no-one knows when their family might need it. Quality, expert legal representation kept Gary here for years, until legal and medical expertise and the voice of the people, the media and ultimately the brave intervention of politicians saved Gary’s life.”

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Frances Crook, Chief Executive, Howard League for Penal Reform “The Howard League’s legal team helps children who are facing destitution on release from prison and the abolition of legal aid for these teenagers means they will face life on the streets and creating mayhem in local communities.

Abolition of legal aid for prisoners, including teenagers and mothers separated from the babies, is politically motivated and not based on hard financial sense. It will mean people spend months, or even years, longer in jail unnecessarily because will no longer get legal support to get the courses they need in prison and to move through the prison maze.”

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Diane Abbott , Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington “We need a justice system free for all.”

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Tony O’Sullivan, Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign  “The severe restrictions on access to the Judicial Review process and to legal aid are undemocratic. They are a serious attack on the legal profession itself, particularly those prepared to defend our rights. They amount to an attack on the democratic rights of individuals and defend themselves against injustice; they amount to an attack on communities ability to oppose government policy; and they amount to an attack on the ability to defend our NHS and other public services.” Read the full SPEECH HERE

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Natalie BennettLeader of the Green Party

 

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Matt Foot, Justice Alliance “There is widespread opposition to Grayling’s proposals. They will have a devastating effect on the rights of ordinary people in this country and undermine the ability to challenge unlawful government actions, which the success of Lewisham Hospital campaigners has shows is vital. No-one has stood up and supported these proposals. Even Grayling did not attend the debate in Parliament.”

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