Thursday, 23 May 2013

Lawyers protest outside parliament against legal aid cuts

Hundreds, some wearing wigs and gowns, demonstrate against justice secretary's plans, which they say undermine UK justice.

Standing in front of a coffin marked: "RIP legal aid," hundreds of lawyers – many in wigs and gowns – demonstrated outside parliament on Wednesday.

The protesters oppose government plans to cut £220m from the annual budget for criminal legal aid and remove defendants' rights to choose their solicitor.

Opponents of Grayling's proposals say that cutting legal aid will lead to more miscarriages of justice.

Jonathan Cooper QC said people did not realise they needed legal aid until they become involved in a case. "Everyone understands that they may need the NHS at some point but people don't believe they may need legal aid."

The former Conservative MP Jerry Hayes condemned Grayling's statement that those arrested were too poorly informed to choose their criminal defence lawyer. He said the justice secretary was implying they were "too thick to pick". "Independent lawyers will disappear within two years. 

High street solicitors will close down and the British justice system will be handed over to corporate bloodsuckers," Hayes said.

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