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JusticeGap in the community
Since the site was launched in October 2011, we have run a number of events – all free, all available to the public and all over-subscribed (book early) – for example, the Community Justice: do we get it? debate which we organised with Hackney Community Law Centre – a panel debate including Diane Abbott, Roger Smith of JUSTICE, Matthew Ryder QC and Lord Willy Bach.
We’ve done two events to launch the latest in the JusticeGap series Wrongly Accused: who is responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice? in London and Manchester. Our panels have included the human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce, investigative journalist David Jessel and the Guardian’s Eric Allison. You can read reviews of those events HERE and HERE. Thanks to the College of Law, Bloomsbury and the BPP law school, Manchester.
We are currently organising the third Prisoners’ Advice Service debate for May next year. Panelists have included Jonathan Aitken, Dr Ben Crewe, deputy director of Prisons Research Centre and Deborah Coles, co-director, INQUEST. Thanks to the international law firm Hogan Lovells for its continued support. You can read reviews HERE, as well as an in conversation which ran in the Guardian between Jonathan Aitken and Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform.
Before the site went live we published the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into Legal Aid (organised by the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers and the Young Legal Aid Lawyers). The publication (Unequal before the law? The future of legal aid) is available on our site for free. The idea for the Commission which took place in the Commons in February 2011, was to examine the safety net that our system of legal aid provides, with a series of ordinary people (not lawyers) giving personal testimonies about the value of legal aid in their lives before a panel of non-lawyers.
The former Lib Dem MP, Dr Evan Harris (below), the canon of Westminster Abbey, the Rev Nicholas Sagovsky, and Diana Holland, assistant general secretary of the trade union Unite, weighed up evidence from the session, plus written submissions from experts and recipients of legal aid. The idea was for a nonpartisan and independent panel to consider the case for (and against) legal aid.