Legal aid cutbacks in the UK have caused major disruption to the law profession and a senior judge has criticised the lack of action from politicians, while another judge has called for a mass lawyer walkout should the Conservative Party be re-elected.
The dramatic comments from judges, normally constrained in their involvement in UK’s political processes, demonstrates the deep feelings over legal aid cuts. One of the judges, Sir Alan Moses made his point when addressing legal aid lawyers in London.
Previously an appeal court judge, Justice Mosessaid: “No one seems to care about the plight of those who have neither the ability to protect themselves in a legal sense and cannot afford a lawyer.
“That [people] are deprived of the chance of legal aid seems to figure at the very bottom of concern in this election.
“No one thinks they are ever going to be faced with circumstances that require someone to hold their hand and safeguard them in the frightening and alienating circumstances of a court of law.
“Who cares about the prisoner whose rights are abused and needs legal advice and assistance? Who cares about the immigrant who asserts they are a genuine refugee? Those who cannot afford access to the courts are often the unpopular minorities and there are no votes in helping them.”
Moses, who is now the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), added: “Who cares if the high street lawyers who beaver away for little reward are closed down? … depriving people who need help degrades our system and degrades us all.”
None of the main political parties, other than the Greens, have pledged in their manifestos to reverse the estimated £700m legal aid cuts imposed on the justice system by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.
Another former appeal court judge urged a mass walkout by lawyers in protest at the cuts if the Conservatives are returned to power.
Sir Anthony Hooper supported the rally and endorsed the suggestion that lawyers should not vote for the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats in the existing coalition who had been responsible for legal aid cuts.
“I’m completely depressed,” he said. “I started out in the legal profession 30-odd years ago when we had as Rolls-Royce a system as you possibly could have.
“This has been destroyed gradually and then quickly over the past few years. Whatever we have said it’s not made any difference at all.
“If the Conservatives come back into power, it’s revolution time. We have to stop helping them and stop working.
Source: The Guardian
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