City lawyers get behind legal aid campaign

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  • Good on the CLLS for at least trying to put some kind of pressure on, shame on the Law Society for caving in so spectacularly and doing nothing. As usual their response is to bleat a bit and then agree with the government's course of action. i understand the cuts target for the criminal legal aid budget were achieved in 2011 (£200 million) and that these are extra cuts to an already savaged budget. i suppose it suits the government to make a concession (choice) which they weren't that bothered about anyway to ake it look like both sides have made concessions.

    Speaking as a former legal aid lawyer i think the changes are shameful. It is usual at this point to say that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer the most, and that is very obviously true. However, given the way that criminal prosecution as practised by amongst others, the CPS, SFO, HMRC and HSE already leaves a lot to be desired and couple that with how the magistrates and crown courts operate in this country we are already in a position where the poor and vulnerable includes anyone who earns more than around £12K per year which i assume includes most of the Lawyers readership (as even if they qualify for some assistance they will have to pay some or all of any legal aid if it is granted).

    Vulnerable is not just a child or a mentally challenged person, vulnerable now includes a professional person, who is being investigated in some cack-handed and fourth rate way by some government agency or local police force. Their assets have been restrained for anything up to 5 years and they are now facing the full might of the state. They could be a fraudster, a director of a company or they could be someone who has been accused of some awful sexual offence.

    At some point they will then be asked to plead to something to 'get rid of it' or do they fight on. A difficult decision for anyone, especially if they are unrepresented, have a family and they are about to lose everything they've worked for all their lives.

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