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The Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) has moved to quell job-loss rumours and mounting staff anxiety at the Legal Aid Board (LAB), following the announcement of the Access to Justice Bill in last week's Queen's Speech.
The Bill proposed that LAB be abolished and replaced by a new body, the Legal Services Commission (LSC). This led to speculation among LAB staff that they might either be made redundant or be forced to re-apply for their jobs.
However, an LCD spokes-man said: "We anticipate the staff of the Legal Aid Board will transfer to the Legal Services Commission."
The spokesman also backed LAB chief executive Steve Orchard, who has been criticised by legal aid practitioners, stating Orchard was "held in very high regard" by the LCD.
A source close to LAB said Orchard had issued a memo alerting staff to changes in the Queen's Speech.
The source added: "The staff feel they are being kept in the dark. The information they have been given is not very rea-ssuring because it's so vague."