A demo to celebrate 64 years of legal aid and protest against the government’s proposed cuts will take place outside the Old Bailey later in the month. It is being organised by the newly formed Justice Alliance.
When? Tuesday 30th July 2013, 4.30pm
Where? Old Bailey, London
What? Rally for Legal Aid
Why? To protest against the cuts to legal aid already in place since the LASPO Act was implemented, and the further cuts proposed by Grayling in his ‘Transforming Legal Aid’ consultation.
The Justice Alliance’s statement of aims are reproduced below:
- We are an alliance of legal organisations, charities, community groups, grass roots and other campaigning groups, trade unions and individuals who are united in our opposition to the government’s proposed attack on legal aid and the criminal justice system. These legal aid proposals are part of the larger assault on essential parts of the welfare state.
- Legal aid, introduced in 1949, is a vital part of the UK justice system. It ensures that access to justice is not just for the rich and that there is equal justice for all. Legal aid is a cornerstone of our democratic tradition and the rule of law.
- Any justice system needs to ensure: fair and equal access to justice for all; protection for vulnerable people; quality and effective legal representation; that the state is held to account; a right to legal aid and a duty upon the Government to provide it. We consider the proposed cuts and the cuts already experienced to be unjust, unnecessary and profoundly damaging.
- The Government’s proposals on legal aid will affect everyone and will have the following effects on those who cannot pay:
- Remove your right to choose your own solicitor. You will be prosecuted by the state and defended by a lawyer selected and appointed by the state.
- Quality, specialist legal defence will disappear. The removal of choice and the cuts in funding will mean you will be getting a service where the cheapest defence lawyers will get a legal aid contract. BAME and Welsh language firms will not survive.
- With the introduction of the residence test, many people would not be able to access the justice system at all; this will include babies in care proceedings, victims of domestic violence and people who have been trafficked into the UK.
- Legal challenges to decisions made by the state and public authorities will be seriously undermined.
- Prisoners will not have legal aid to make representations about vital issues like their treatment, rehabilitation and progress. They will be left to stagnate.
- We will work as a Justice Alliance to promote national and local action to stop the government proposals and so protect legal aid as an essential part of access to justice.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award