Grayling defends cuts, while profession fights back
Justice Minister Chris Grayling, a former BBC producer, has defended his controversial legal aid cuts in a long interview in the Law Gazette, claiming to have received "lots of letters and emails" from people concerned about legal aid entitlement.
He goes on to say that there is a problem with a small number of lawyers making a large amount of money: "If you are deriving your income from publicly funded legal aid it is unrealistic to expect to net an income…. of many hundreds of thousands of pounds a year." When asked if he thinks criminal legal aid lawyers are overpaid, he says: "I think most criminal legal aid lawyers in the junior Bar are not particularly well paid. I think that more senior barristers are often quite well paid."
There is fierce opposition from within the legal community to the proposed cuts. In this past week alone, the Legal Services Consumer Panel has branded the cuts "unfair and likely to damage the quality of representation in courts and police stations". On 19 May retired judge Sir Anthony Hooper said in the Express that judges across England and Wales were "extremely worried" about proposals to auction off criminal defence work to the lowest bidder, which could see the system run by corporations like G4S and Eddie Stobart.
Finally, on 22 May hundreds of lawyers came together on to protest outside parliament, standing in front of a coffin marked "RIP Legal aid". During the protest Sadiq Khan, former solicitor and Labour's justice spokesman, said that Grayling's "obsession with throwing red meat to Tory backbenchers and appearing on the front page of the Mail on Sunday" would undermine British justice.
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