[The beginnings of this thread were originally published on Defero Law and can be seen here]
So, legal aid: where are we now? Verbal rumblings have been going on for months. The Ministry of Justice public consultation, 'Transforming Legal Aid' closed on June 4 (full consultation document here). The MoJ said it got 13,000 responses, but apparently this was the one to read:
If MoJ read just one response, this absolutely needs to be it “@richardmoorhead: Response to Legal Aid Consultation wp.me/pxDm8-nO”Elsewhere, Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) has been at his best, tweeting like an animal charged on Red Bull. Former pupil-barrister Harry Mount has been up stirring things up, writing a piece for the Spectator on June 8 on how 'Chris Grayling is right to reform legal aid'.
— Jeremy Hopkins (@Jezhop) June 3, 2013
That really got people's back up, as dozens launched themselves onto that out of control wagon. Though Harry Mount's piece has now been given a full front page (webpage) rebuttal on the Spectator, with an essay by barrister and media-face Jerry Hayes entitled, 'Harry Mount is wrong: Chris Grayling’s legal aid reforms will damage justice'.
Simon Myerson QC was also one of the first to hit out against Mount in the comment sections and has since penned two full pieces, 'Six reasons the cuts to legal aid will ruin our justice system' in the Independent, and then '9 Reasons whay Harry Mount's Hatchet Job on the Legal Profession Misses the Mark'.
There's also a piece by Mark Nayler in the New Statesman on how 'Harry Mount's attack on barristers is shot through with personal loathing'. Oh - and we can't of course forget the comedian John Finnemore's skit on the Radio 4's Now Show on Saturday 8 June.
The whole affair is pretty fluid and even since all the bluster above, the Justice Committee are now/have since been considering/considered the legal aid reforms; which includes, among others, Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff giving evidence.
Justice Select Committee meeting today at 9:30am on Legal Aid - parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.as…
— Zoe Saunders (@ZASaunders) June 11, 2013
Evidence taken on @mojgovuk's proposals on transforming #legalaid at 9.30am @commonsjustice goo.gl/gtJ0t
— UK Parliament (@UKParliament) June 11, 2013
And the tweets are pouring out, including from Richard Moorhead (the man who's response to the 'Transforming Legal Aid' public consultation we were encouraged to read):
Legal Aid Justice Cttee @rogerjgsmith on BBC Parliament now.With extra stripes and a little dash of controversy
— Richard Moorhead (@RichardMoorhead) June 11, 2013
Thanks @thelawsociety for calling on Justice Select Committee to hear evidence on changes to #legalaid in civil cases too! #saveukjustice
— @savejusticeuk (@savejusticeuk) June 11, 2013
So far no question from committee is based upon credibility of the legal aid system.
— Northpod Law (@northpodlaw) June 11, 2013
Get off the fence Roger... RT @njbarmstrong Roger Smith at Justice Committee: "ineptitude of government never ceases to amaze me" #legalaid
— John Hyde (@JohnHyde1982) June 11, 2013
We can expect the flow of tweets to continue. In the mean time you can sign the petition against the reforms:
Why you should sign this:epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/48628 Grayling’s turd burger of a plan on legal aid explained: youtu.be/fHhfpCP1kPU .
— Stephen Mangan (@StephenMangan) June 11, 2013
So that's it. Well my attempts at rounding up where we are. Thousands of words have been written in recent weeks, and many more are spilling out at this very moment. I'm watching the affair progress with interest and look forward to seeing how things settle down and whether Mr Grayling will listen to the calls against his reforms.
In the interim period, enjoy my cartoon.
On June 13 2013 the Bar Council published a response to the Harry Mount piece that appeared in the Spectator, published June 8. Read the response from the tweet below:
MMQC challenges Mount's angry & unfocused polemic: 'a fundamental ignorance of the British legal system' @spectator http://t.co/0vEVoZpSk5
— The Bar Council (@thebarcouncil) June 13, 2013
On April 18 2013 the Criminal Bar Association published, 'Price Competitive Tendering. A Solicitor's View from the High Street'.
See the June 13 blog post by Charon QC on the failing of Chris Grayling to know the difference between the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association here.
Also hear his April 30 2013 podcast interview with Michael Turner QC, Chairman of The Criminal Bar Association here.
There is also a Charon QC podcast interview with barrister and former MP, Jerry Hayes from May 25 2013, 'Jerry Hayes on the Lord Chancellor’s Legal Aid reforms – a sardonic commentary'.
Also is the April 23 2013 piece in the New Statesman by David Allen Green, 'How the Ministry of Justice’s proposal for the tendering of criminal legal aid is misconceived and illiberal'.
Senior judge, Lord Neuberger said that the proposed legal aid cuts would create two-tier justice system.
On June 19 David Allen Green commented on the Attorney-General's "most remarkable letter" to a group of barristers concerned about the legal aid reform.
The Supreme Court President and most senior judge in the UK weighed in on the Legal Aid reform debate. Read here.
"145 specially appointed Government barristers demand rethink on Legal Aid plans"
You should read the Legal Aid Changes Blog.
June 26, Lord McNally, Minister of State for Justice, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords wrote in the Huffington Post that 'Legal Aid Reform Is Necessary.'