Monday, 16 February 2015

The Tuesday Truth

The Global Law Summit v Not the Global Law Summit
Karl Turner MP Shadow Solicitor  General
I will not attend the hypocritical Global Law Summit even if they’d asked me, which in fact they did
The 23rd February marks the start of the Global Law Summit in London with the pretence of commemorating 800 years since Magna Carta and the introduction of the rule of law in Britain. The actual anniversary falls in June, however the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling has brought the event forward, to just before the election to try and make political capital out of the anniversary. It also marks the point at which the Government will be beyond satire when it comes to Justice. The hypocrisy of a Coalition Government that wants to extol the virtues of British Justice whilst at the same time dismantling the Legal Aid system and systematically restricting access to the Courts is astounding.
Given the Coalition Government’s sell off of Royal Mail I thought that perhaps my invitation may have been lost in the post. I do however have it on the highest authority that I was in fact sent an invite, nevertheless, I will not be attending as I cannot abide the falseness of the proposed event
The event is designed to showcase British Justice to the world, but at prices of up to £1,750 for a ticket, only the rich and well off will be able to attend. This is a perfect reflection of this government’s out of touch attitude. A telling giveaway of the event’s real intention to facilitate business networks and access to key industry decision makers”. So the event isn’t about the celebration of British Justice, it is a schmooze-fest aimed at connecting rich commercial lawyers with big business and politicians.
This government’s approach to the rule of law is completely contrary to the values with which Magna Carta is associated. This week saw the Criminal Justice Bill receive Royal Assent in Parliament. The Bill aims to severely curtail Judicial Review, the measure with which civil society can use to challenge Government decisions. Again, this is another assault on the rule of law which should not go unnoticed and should not go unchallenged.
Instead of this sham event, I will be attending the real deal the ‘Not the Global Law Summit’ whose events include a march from Runnymede to Westminster, a protest outside Parliament and a ‘Stand Up For Legal Aid Event’.
Magna Carta declares that “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice”. If we look at the Coalition government, they have done exactly that.
I cannot in good conscience attend an event that goes against everything the rule of law stands for. The Global Law Summit will be attended by people being used as Chris Grayling’s patsies, I hope that they can see the hypocrisy of the event and stay away. I will not hold my breath.    

Dinah Rose QC; Leading Civil Rights lawyer
David Cameron: “Magna Carta , ooh I know this one , err is it…? No just give me minute, um, oh I had it a second ago, err no, no, I give up . What is it? ” 
“This Government has eviscerated legal aid, restricted judicial review, and proposes massive increases in court fees which will bar the door of the Court to most people in this country. Now it says it wants to celebrate Magna Carta. It must be assumed that, as David Cameron admitted on American TV, it doesn’t understand what Magna Carta means.”
Camilla Graham Wood: Young Legal Aid Lawyers

Can’t go won’t go

“Grayling's cuts to legal aid and changes to judicial review have shown how little he knows or cares about the need for everyone to have access to justice irrespective of wealth, and the importance of holding the State to account. These are values which can be traced back to the original Magna Carta. The fact that Grayling is leading the sham celebration of 800 years of Magna Carta at the Global Law Summit - which incidentally not one single Young Legal Aid Lawyer, or legally aided client, would be able to afford to go to  - whilst decimating access to justice, is an affront to this history and to the Rule of Law."

Bill Waddington: Chairman of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association

Access no areas

“800 years ago the Magna Carta laid down the foundation stones of the Rule of Law, a system of Justice with access to all. Since then our system has been exported to most parts of the world. In 2015 the Lord Chancellor's demolition squad moved in to prevent a huge proportion of the population from having access to Justice by unsustainable cuts to civil and criminal legal aid with more to come, Court closures with more to come and extravagant hikes in Court fees, preventing all but the very rich from access to Justice and representation . There is no better example of this than the cost of the tickets for the Global Law Summit, priced at £1750 per head).  At £1750 per head, we surely now have the most expensive Global Law Summit in the world. ”
Jon Black: President of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association

Timesharing Magna Carta 
“There is a time and a place to sell the UK and its legal system. At a time when austerity measures are causing widespread suffering this is no time to show off, particularly using Magna Carta, the cornerstone of our system of rights as a vehicle for doing so. If the Magna Carta was such an important theme of this conference and our legal system something of great pride, we would expect the MOJ to be inviting their overseas guests inside our court rooms so that they could showcase our modern and progressive justice system that they are seeking to sell. The reality is they know how embarrassing it would be to see courts not sitting, defendants unrepresented, and the slow delivery of prisoners alongside disillusioned lawyers, probation officers and judges. Like timeshare salesmen they will only allow the show homes to be viewed. At least the translators accompanying delegates may be available at short notice to fill in for the absent interpreters at court. 

Rebecca Herbert Barrister and Committee member of the Criminal Bar Association
Standing up for justice not sitting down at the Global Law Summit
I can’t speak to historical accuracy, but the fact is, Magna Carta has become synonymous with rights. Most particularly it has come to symbolise the empowerment of the weak by allowing their unfettered access to the protection of the law, and a guarantee that discrimination in favour of power, riches or influence has no place in our Courts.  This is true cause for celebration.
That this celebration has been cynically hijacked by this government, this Lord Chancellor, at this time, whilst unsurprising, given its record for hypocrisy and cant, is about as unsavoury a political spectacle as one can conceive – and let’s face it, it’s a high bar. This government has done more than any before it to obstruct access to our Courts by those in society most in need of them; it has done more than any before it to wrongfully assert its power against those who would challenge it; and what is more, it is utterly unrepentant, even triumphant about that. Some, more forgiving than I, might say that the Lord Chancellor has no idea what he does:  I refuse to give him such allowance. If he does not know, it is because he has wilfully refused to listen, but I accuse him of more than that failure, and remind him and his acolytes of this;
“Once you've built the big machinery of political power, remember you won't always be the one to run it”. (P.J.O’Rourke)
So, no, I will not be part of party political back slapping at £1750 a ticket, for the great and the good, to congratulate themselves on the money to be made out of my legal system. I will not celebrate the reductions in legal aid, the destruction of judicial review, the annihilation of the Criminal Bar, and of scores of solicitors, the devastation wreaked upon my colleagues in CPS, probation, prisons and police. I will stand up, as should we all, with the Justice Alliance, in protest at the mockery made of our cherished values, as Mr Grayling and his friends applaud each other at the GLS.

Nicola Hill: Partner at Kingsley Napley
You only had one thing to do…

What a shame that the Lord Chancellor has taken something as important as the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and used it for political advantage; celebrating four months early in advance of a general election. A shame but not a surprise. This is the Lord Chancellor who has destroyed the one precious thing he was charged with protecting: the rule of law.

Russell Fraser: Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

The rule of law is not for sale
The Global Law Summit is the true face of this government, its friends, and what it holds to be important. It is a gathering for big business and is intended to promote London as the legal forum of choice for the super rich. Not the Global Law Summit provides the last chance to protest against this government’s destruction of publicly-funded legal advice before the general election. The hypocrisy of the GLS which masquerades as a celebration of Magna Carta and the rule of law while simultaneously denying access to the courts to vast numbers of people should not be lost on anyone. It is vital that everyone who has opposed the government’s wrecking of legal aid comes together on 23 February.

Hester Russell: Partner at Harthills Solicitors and CLSA Committee Member 
Magna Carta for all
I was raised in Hereford, home of the Mappa Mundi and, of course, a 1217 version of the great Magna Carta. For me Magna Carta is not about Global Leaders or International Businesses; it is about individuals, it is about fairness, it is about equality and it is about justice:-
"To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice".

If, like me, you recognise the irony of the £1,750 per ticket, Government Backed "Global Law Summit", exercise your democratic rights and join the Justice Alliance in standing against this revolting hypocrisy.  

Rhona Friedman: Co-founder of Justice Alliance

From Magna Carta to market   

One definition of a summit is a meeting of high-level leaders, usually called upon to shape a programme of action. What programme could emerge from the Global Law Summit? It can’t be a programme to improve access to justice and freedom of speech for ordinary people in the countries sending representatives to the event because otherwise panel sessions would have been addressed by a plethora of legal aid experts and civil rights lawyers from the UK and abroad. We may also have seen an entire session devoted to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which if it becomes treaty law will create secret courts, hearing cases in which transnational corporations will sue elected governments, reaching secret judgment completely outside the reach of the rule of law.  
So no programme of action on rule of law issues then but instead a “valuable opportunity to meet and do business” according to the Summit’s co-chair.  Do business leaders really need the rule of law to flog their products? I’m not sure they do otherwise the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan wouldn’t have been invited. You can read about that country’s attitude to the rule of law here:
The first morning of the Summit starts with a key note address by the current Lord Chancellor, the two year report card on his attitude to access to justice and state accountability, both guarantors of the rule of law, has been well and truly marked by others. Lord Green was until the recent excitement due to have appeared alongside him on the platform. He was boss of HSBC when the rule of hiding assets from the tax authorities and from criminal justice apparently took precedence over the rule of law.
After the key note speeches comes panel session one Business and the Rule of Law. The Chair of BAe Systems has been chosen to sit on this panel which may be sensible scheduling by the organisers because he can be asked questions about how in 2010 the rule of law in the UK and US cost his business nearly £300m in fines for criminal behaviour. BAe Systems set a UK record for a corporate criminal fine which may or may not be what the organisers had in mind when they themed the event around “Law at the heart of 21st Century Business.”     
It is clear that Magna Carta and the rule of law have been plastered on to this jamboree as mere branding stickers for the event. Why don’t they just drop the pretence and be unashamedly direct in their direct marketing and call it what it is: “The London Law Marketplace”? Not the “Davos of law” but speed dating with nibbles for corporate lawyers queuing up to speak to a man (they will mostly be men) who knows a man who is close to the Big Man who wants to sell off a state asset or enter into a contract for telecoms or buy riot control equipment to quell those pesky campaigners at home who want rule by law founded upon the rule of law.  
Justice Alliance is heartened that so many people – lawyers and non lawyers, have seen through the artifice and have spoken out against the hypocrisy of the Ministry of Justice co-hosting this event at a time when the government has embarked upon an unprecedented attack on access to justice and civil liberties.
From 21st February onwards we will be holding King John Grayling to account not with the military threat of the barons but with people speaking truth to power, accompanied by 13th Century tunes, some capering fools and most importantly Magna Carta.   Join us either on our Relay for Rights on the 21st –to the morning of 23rd February or at Not the Global Law Summit from 1pm at Old Palace Yard, Westminster.     
Please see our website for more details.    





No comments:

Post a Comment