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GREATER MANCHESTER DEMO AGAINST LEGAL AID CUTS
 

Star date: 29th July 2013

RALLY AND MARCH AGAINST CUTS FOR THE RIGHT TO ACCESS JUSTICE

March and Rally
Tuesday 30th July 5pm-6pm
Manchester Crown Court Cathedral Gardens

Tomorrow at 5pm there's going to be a march and rally against ConDem Government cuts to Legal Aid. The cuts will affect people who don't have access to wads of money to pay for lawyers and will particularly include homeless families, victims of domestic violence and trafficked children, thus trashing any notion of `equality before the law'.

Full details here


Defend Legal Aid
click image to enlarge

The ConDem Government is now attacking what is called `the fourth pillar of the Welfare State' by cutting access to Legal Aid, or the right to access justice.

* Legal Aid in all civil cases will be subject to a discriminatory `residence' test which will cut off access for many vulnerable people, including homeless families, victims of domestic violence and trafficked children. The Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) group says that "under this proposal groundbreaking cases involving the accountability of the state for the actions of the armed forces abroad could not have been brought".

* Legal aid will no longer be paid for the early stages of judicial review claims, unless the case passes the `permission' stage. YLAL lawyers say that "without the help of Legal Aid, judicial review will simply not be possible for the majority. The ordinary citizen will no longer be able to hold the state to account".

* The ConDem Government is proposing to award contracts for criminal defence work to the cheapest bidders, irrespective of quality. Although this is being looked at again by the Government, YLAL lawyers say that "this will lead to a poor quality, low value service. The proposals will also restrict the ability of individuals to choose their lawyer and damage small and medium-sized local businesses".

* Prisoners will no longer receive Legal Aid for many vitally important issues such as whether they are treated lawfully and humanely in the prison system or where they will live on release and how they will be supported to avoid reoffending. YLAL lawyers say "this will stultify the civil liberties of prisoners and jeopardise the Government's stated commitment to rehabilitating offenders and reducing crime".

* There will be further cuts to the fees paid in criminal, civil, family and immigration cases. YLAL lawyers say "these cuts threaten the quality of legal representation and the sustainability of the profession. The cuts will hit low earning junior lawyers the hardest".

* There will be cut to experts' fees. YLAL lawyers say this "will make it very difficult to bring or defend cases which depend on crucial expert evidence, such as child care proceedings or cases involving vulnerable and mentally ill people".

The Greater Manchester event starts at 5pm outside Manchester Crown Court, or the Civil Justice Centre which is now also the main court for Salford and is about 100 yards over the Manc border on Bridge Street, near the People's History Museum.

There's a rally followed by a march accompanied by the ace PCS Samba band to Cathedral Gardens, near Urbis* The event finishes at 6pm.

Speakers at the rallies include Chris Hilliard (student activist, acquitted after the 2010 student fees protest), a refugee, Debbie Abrahams (MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth), a speaker from campaign group Access to Advice, Manjeet Kaur and Rhetta Moran (RAPAR), Dennis Queen (DPAC), Geraldine O'Connor (a campaigner on legal aid and disability rights), John Nicholson (immigration and public law barrister) from Kenworthy's Chambers, Mark George QC from Garden Court North (criminal defence barrister), Robert Lizar (criminal defence solicitor) and a message from Michael Mansfield QC.

Defend Legal Aid
March and Rally
Tuesday 30th July 5pm
Manchester Crown Court
Court Square Manchester M3 3FL

* Full route - Walk South and East to Left Bank; North along Left Bank past the People's History Museum; East along Bridge Street; North along Deansgate; East to Cathedral Gardens

For further details see also www.savelegalaid.co.uk/justicealliance

Facebook page: http://bit.ly/64yearsLegalAid 

UPDATE: 31st July - see report on the march and rally - click here

       
Steven North wrote
at 12:46:31 on 31 July 2013
@sosick I'd like to comment on a few of the points you've made here. First of all, what is so positive about the Bedroom Tax/Spare Room Subsidy (whatever you choose to call it)? Even if a person accepts the populist and currently popular argument that people on benefits are responsible for all the world's problems, then how exactly does this policy benefit those of us who aren't on benefits given that it's only going to end up costing us more money in the end? It will cost us more because successive Governments (Tory, Labour and Coalition) have failed to build adequate amounts of either affordbale private housing or social housing. This means that there are not enough small social properties in which to re-house people who can't afford to pay their rent following the introduction of the tax/abolition of the subsidy. This means that local authorities either have the choice of letting those arrears build up - which is bad for the rest of us as the Council will need to generate that income from somewhere else like more service cuts or increased council tax - or putting the person in private accommodation which ends up costing us all a fortune because rents are typically higher in order to subsidise the very same landlords who are helping make it impossible for young people to get on the property ladder - thus increasing the likelyhood of people needing social housing. If we then come on to your views on the legal aid caps, let's take those in turn: 1. What is absolutely clear is that those seeking legal aid will no longer have control over who theit solicitor is, which means a reduced likelyhood of a solicitor who is fluent in the type of law being practised. Having studied law (and no I'm not a solicitor and have no direct interest in this policy not being enacted) I can tell you that knowledge of Criminal Law means very little in a Family Law setting. 2. Why should those who have no stable residence not be allowed to access legal aid? What about homeless people? What about women who have been the victims of domestic violence and have no fixed abode? What about foreigners who are trafficked into this country and then dumped by pimps and gangmasters? Is it not in the public interest for them to be able to take their cases to court? Remember Morecambe Bay? Why should the families of those cockle-pickers not have been supported to challenge those responsible for their relatives deaths just because they resided elsewhere? It is in all our interests for such cases to be taken. 3. Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Derek Bentley, Timothy Evans, Stefan Kiszco....all in prison but not one of them guilty. 4. You give an emotive scenario, but what of the expert who says - "Mr. X do you feel it is appropriate that your now homeless wife and two children should have no access to your earnings or rights to your property, especially after the domestic abuse they suffered at your hands?" Also, you can check this link out to read about the mother of a rape victim speaking out against these cuts: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/rape-victims-mother-makes-plea-to-stop-legal-aid-cuts-8738016.html

So sick of this commy crap wrote
at 12:45:22 on 31 July 2013
@Michael Salford (ex Felse), I am so glad you have quoted your position, so you think that people charged with rape should be allowed "experts" to defend them? Because I tell you now that's what happens, the defence teams employ so called "experts" to rip apart the evidence of the victim, all they are really are distraction rapists who let evil raping scumbags roam the streets of Salford. Like I say, glad I know what you stand for now so that me and the rest of the women in Salford can avoid voting for you. Oh and as for the F***ing bit, would you not be angry at these proposals if it was your Mother, Sister, Auntie, Nice, Daughter, that got raped? Well if your answer is no then like I said, glad I will never be voting for an EXTREME LEFT scumbag like you.

Michael Salford (ex Felse) wrote
at 15:35:51 on 30 July 2013
Must object to the foul language of So Sick post below - the use of F words is not welcomed in a family accessible site. Salford deserves better.

Michael Salford wrote
at 11:26:29 on 30 July 2013
This is a bad policy. With my new name, in readiness to stand for UKIP next year, I will go on fighting to get back justice for Salford vulnerable people.

So sick of this commy crap wrote
at 11:26:15 on 30 July 2013
Oh for fucks sake how much more anti government can this site get, not contempt with trying to slag the government off over positive changes like the bedroom subsidy being abolished, then the LEFTIES who call it the "bedroom tax" now have their straw filled brains filled with crap over the legal aid system. Some FACTS for you lefties: 1, The government is not proposing to award contracts for criminal defence work to the cheapest bidders, that policy has been looked at and abolished. 2, The "discriminatory `residence' test" you talk of is designed to stop NON RESIDENTS of this country abusing the system, quite reasonable in my opinion. 3, " Prisoners will no longer receive Legal Aid", GOOD and they should not do, the crimes they have commited are crimes against society what ever they be all crimes have a victim and these people have been convicted of such, prison is a punishment not a fucking holiday camp. 4, "There will be cut to experts' fees" again GOOD and then VICTIMS will not be subjected to "experts" who say things like "psychologically you wanted him to rape you , is that not true victim X" Get a fucking grip Salford Star I thought this was a community publication not a leftie policy forum for slaging off anyone who does not vote for a left leaning party.

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