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Peace News log archive: May 2013

Articles from the Peace News log.
For archive articles from the whole site, look here

Lawyer and activist Jo Wilding on the stark consequences of the proposed Legal Aid reforms and the recent demonstration against them.

ImageBreda Power’s father Billy spent sixteen years in prison as one of the Birmingham Six (1975-1991), for an IRA bombing of which he was eventually shown to be innocent. Campaigning for his release she spoke frequently on the media and at meetings. When he and the other five walked out of prison, one of her first thoughts was that she never had to speak in public again.

“Twenty years later, here I am, again speaking for justice,” she said to a demonstration of lawyers, NGOs and other campaigners outside Parliament on May 22, opposing the changes proposed in the government’s “Transforming Legal Aid” paper, which amount to denial of access to justice for almost anyone who can’t afford to pay.

The criminal proposals are to reduce the current 1600 criminal legal aid solicitors firms to just 400 contracts across the country. Those contracts will be awarded for 3-5 years to the lowest bidder, with clients allocated on a no-choice basis. Most regions will have four, widely expected to be the likes of Tesco, G4S, Serco, Capita and Eddie Stobart. Yes, the lorry driving Eddie Stobart. Experience in providing legal services will not be an essential criteria.

Chris Grayling, Minister of Justice, defended his proposals to deny defendant’s a choice of lawyers saying that most are not “connoisseurs” of legal services because they are too poor or uneducated – or “too thick to pick”. He didn’t specify whether any of those people had voted for him in the last election.

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A series of Jill Gibbon's drawings from BAE's annual general meeting, May 8th

Getting cross











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