Review- More Funds needed please
Friday 27th February 2015 the Court Appeal granted leave to the
CLSA, LCCSA and Law Society to appeal against the High Court refusal of those
applicants judicial review of the Ministry of Justice’s Legal aid reforms. The Judicial Review specifically related to
the MOJ proposal to sell off 527 duty solicitor contracts for provision of
Criminal Defence work, a policy likely to result in a substantial reduction in
access to justice and quality of representation. The economic evidence suggests
that most firms will not survive without a duty contract. As well as securing
leave the injunction against this tender process was preserved by the court
until the full appeal on 10th and 11th March 2015.
is a substantial achievement. The CLSA and LCCSA have led the campaign against
these proposals and deserve considerable credit for continuing the fight.
However the JR appeal fund needs more money now.
may have given before, and that is fantastic but the fight goes on because what
is at stake is access to justice, equality of arms and state accountability.
The LCCSA and CLSA has assembled an outstanding team of lawyers to fight the
cause supported by dedicated volunteers from both associations but they need
your help. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE NOW. The link is http://www.criminallawyersunited.com/donate-to-the-campaign-fund/
Relay for rights/Stand
up for Justice at Not the Global Law Summit
Written by Subashini Nathan who was called to the Bar in 2013. She is currently an immigration paralegal at Birnberg Pierce and Partners, seeking pupilage.
I was brought up near Rochester Castle, which in 1215
was held by the baronial forces against the Crown. It was the site of a seven
week siege led by King John. Severe food shortages led to Rochester
surrendering to the King, but his victory was brief as King John died the
800 years later, and I find that we are still
struggling with arbitrary and unaccountable power. This Relay was us: ordinary
people, charities, NGOs and lawyers resisting the siege laid by King John
Grayling in his destruction of the rule of law, due process and access to
I have been part of the Justice Alliance as a voice
from the Tamil community, representing an NGO, since the beginning of Justice
Alliance in June 3013. When Matt Foot and Rhona Freidman shot round the idea of
a Relay, I was up for it. I enjoyed doing Duke of Edinburgh expeditions whilst
in school, and I thought the relay would be a piece of cake, which it was if
you like hard blister inducing soggy fruit cake that is at risk of being
dronwed by the Thames.
We started on a sunny Saturday, at 12 noon in
Runnymede, where hundreds of us turned up with non baronial banners and
carrying water bottles and blister plasters, not spears this time. We rallied
on borrowed US soil, the site of the Americal Bar Association’s Magna Carta memorial.
Words of support from Emma Thompson were read out and
we heard from Susan Matthews about the battle to clear her son Alfie Meadows
who sustained a brain in jury when arrested by police at a student fees
demonstration. Ruth Hayes of Islington Law Centre then explained the huge
impact of the legal aid cuts across the advice sector. We were sent on our way
by Anthony Barnett founder of Open Democracy who provided the historical
context for where we were and what we were about to do.
The Relay was to carry Clauses 39 & 40, which were
read out by Anthony Barnett at the start of the 42 mile journey.
(39) No free
man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or
outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed
with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment
of his equals or by the law of the land.
(40) To no one
will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
With the ceremony over we were off accompanied by King
John Grayling, some four-legged friends, family members and children. We had to
carefully tread past crazed wild horses, and we avoided being stranded on the
wrong bank of the river at Shepperton just catching the last ferry to the South
bank captained by Ferryman Dave (no relation to Brian, his joke not mine!).
The hardest day by far was the Sunday, where we made
an early start in Walton on Thames and pegged it to Richmond. We arrived at the
appointed pub to join a much larger crowd and shuffled on to the Thames Path
towards Putney. We walked through the rain, dodging the river as it broke the
bank and flooded the paths. Frequent stops at pubs (one inhabitated by a
suspiciously young looking Anthea Turner) kept us going as we walked under low
bridges, cutting through mud, runners, cyclists and low hanging branches.
On Monday morning limping by now we walked from St
Mary’s Church Putney, the scene of the Putney Debates, to
Westminster, with King John Grayling in tow. As we got closer to Westminster,
we were joined by an ever growing crowd of supporters, musicians and the
wonderfully charming Maxine Peake. I was shocked and humbled at the turnout in
Old Palace Yard which showed that the Justice Alliance is a movement that is
relevant and well-supported nearly two years after its formation.
The Rally kicked off with Greg Foxsmith staging a mock
impeachment process of King John Grayling who had nothing to say for himself.
In between there were inspirational speakers which included Jon Black and Robin
Murray of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association and the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Associatio; the leader of the probation officers
union NAPO , Justice Alliance Co-founder, Matt Foot,Labour MP Karl Turner; Marcia Rigg, whose
brother Sean Rigg died in police custody; co-director of INQUEST, Deborah Coles
and Barry George’s
sister, Michelle Bates. What really hit home was hearing the final words of
Professor Costas Douzinas, “The only battle we do not win is the battle we do not
join”followed by a
few home truths from a young man Awate Suleiman talking about his experiences
at the hands of our injustice system.
The Rally led by banner-men, minstrels, a jester and
King John Grayling then headed out to Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, the
site of the Global Law Summit. A delegation managed to persuade the organisers
to accept the Magna Carta (or rather the Relay’s copy). A letter accompanying it asked that clauses
39 and 40 of the Magna Carta be read out in the conference itself. Crowds of
nervous looking delegates gathered at the windows of QE2 to take a good look at
the side of the law that was never discussed within the Global Law Summit.
That evening Stand Up for Justice: Justice Just Got
Funny (CPD to be confirmed) was a fantastic, well organised end to the 42 miles
Relay. I was lucky to bag a seat in the front row and had the joy of heckling
Stewart Lee and riffing with MC Ian Stone.
The full three days would have not been the same
without the cheer, goodwill and support of the many people who turned up and
out to walk with us. As someone just starting out in a career in legal aid law
the difference between the suits at the Global Law Summit and the hundreds of
people who supported the Not the Global Law Summit was stark. They looked
embarrassed and shifty and we were proud and united in defending legal aid and
the Magna Carta principles which undperpin access to justice.