So, The Mail on Sunday claim that Chris Grayling’s step down on legal aid plans for criminal cases was thanks to them.
It seems they choose to overlook the huge amount of work and expertise legal professionals have put in, the debates, the petitions, the marches and the considered responses to public consultation highlighting the concerns that The Mail claim they had already put forward.
Lawyers were more than aware of the government’s plans to strip people of their right to choose a criminal defence lawyer for themselves, that legal aid contracts were to be awarded based on price competition rather than legal merit, experience or expertise and that non-lawyers could bid for contracts, leading to bids from lorry firm The Stobart Group.
Raju Bhatt said at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards on 2nd July, “We will survive because our clients need us to survive”.
The important message here is that dedicated legal professionals have, for many months, been forcefully highlighting concerns in their thousands, standing together to expose the massive flaws in the proposals alongside the crucial day to day work they carry out for their clients.
And, what is more, Chris Grayling has taken note and is rethinking his reforms to legal aid and going back to the drawing board.
We all understand that savings need to be made, but such savings at the cost of people’s access to justice is just not fair, there can be too much at stake.
Instead, lawyers suggest that focus is shifted to improving courtroom efficiencies in a bid for Grayling to meet his promise in saving £220 million from the legal aid budget.