Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 March 2014

Lawyers walk out to defend legal aid

Russell Fraser, Criminal barrister and joint secretary of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

It is rare, if it happens at all, that those of us on the left attend protests and demonstrations with Tory party grandees among the speakers.

More rare still that such a figure's words are greeted by applause and cheers. But that was the response when Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, a former Tory MP of 23 years, told those protesting outside parliament on 7 March about cuts to legal aid that he was "ashamed of this government".

For the second time this year criminal solicitors and barristers walked out over the government's continuing attack on legal aid.

On 6 January there was a half-day of action with protests around the country, including the Old Bailey in London.

This time lawyers - again many in wigs and gowns - took their protest to Parliament where we were joined by campaign and grassroots organisations and many people who had used legal aid.

The centre point of the protest was a giant papier-mâché effigy of the justice secretary Chris Grayling designed and built by the Brighton artist Patrick Bullock.

Among those speaking to the assembled crowd were Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and Janis Sharp whose son, Gary McKinnon, successfully fought against extradition to the United States with the help of legal aid lawyers.

Mr Hill told those watching that Chris Grayling should be renamed the "Minister of Injustice" and urged lawyers to "come out on strike for good" until we got rid of him.

Following the speeches, the rally marched from outside Parliament to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) taking in the Supreme Court and the Liberal Democrat headquarters, led all the way by the giant rendering of the justice secretary.

At Liberal Democrat headquarters a delegation of the Justice Alliance led by Paddy Hill and Janis Sharp redelivered over 100 copies of a document containing testimonials from over 100 organisations stating why legal aid is important.

The testimonials were first delivered to the Liberal Democrats in November last year. To date Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has not responded.

When the march reached the MoJ, protesters walked into the main foyer in large numbers and delivered a copy of the Magna Carta.

At the same time the delighted crowd was treated to the sight of the Chris Grayling effigy being refused entry and then ejected from the MoJ offices.

The legal profession's nascent foray into the world of industrial action and protest has so far been successful.

But in a meeting of lawyers in the afternoon it was agreed that further action would be required. One solicitor called for the next action to be a three-day strike which received unanimous support from those in the hall.

The next stage of the campaign will see barristers refusing to cover the work of colleagues who, because of other court commitments, cannot attend a particular hearing.

This arrangement had always been one of goodwill. That goodwill has been tested and, it appears, has finally been exhausted by the policies of this government.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 13 March 2014:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Bob Crow - A great fighter for the working class

Stop the destruction of care in Britain

NHS - under attack from private vultures

Police spy inquiry must not be another whitewash

Stop cuts and police repression in Tottenham!

Them & Us

Socialist Party congress

Preparing for a mighty upsurge in class struggle

Socialist Party workplace news

Solidarity with Doncaster care strikers

PCS: Building a fighting union leadership

Lawyers walk out to defend legal aid

Probation workers to strike again

Labour council removes trade union facilities

Unison higher education - fighting leadership needed

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaigning on International Women's Day

Second Maltby councillor for TUSC

Turkey solidarity protest

Anti-fracking campaign steps up in Lancashire

Readers' comments

The horror that was World War One


Home   |   The Socialist 13 March 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

Legal aid:

triangleJoin the fight for refugee rights

triangleCourts and tribunal services face huge cuts

triangleLawyers defeat Tories' unjust legal aid cuts

triangleNapo at a crossroads

triangleWorkplace news in brief


triangleNo to fat-cat top judges' £59k pay hike - fight for decent pay for criminal justice workers

triangleDerby public meeting: Women's Lives Matter

triangleOxfam scandal: we need democratic aid and working class solidarity

triangleStop the cuts - save our vital services


triangleWhile Tories elect new leader - prepare action to remove the lot of them

triangleTories facing electoral meltdown

triangleCorbyn and workers' movement must lead fight for general election and socialist alternative to EU bosses' club


triangleFraudsters thrive and claimants suffer in despicable Universal Credit scam

triangleSudan masses mobilise against state repression

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Transport strike - blockade foils employers



NSSN conference 2019: at the heart of trade union struggle



Miners' Gala: Strength and history of unions on show


Climate change

Socialist change to end climate change



Campaigners force U-turn over NHS privatisation


Socialist Party

Excellent response to Socialist Party building fund appeal



Leicestershire - No more austerity!


Fighting Fund

Socialist Party Fighting Fund


Fire service

Stop the fire service cuts



Residents, housing activists and pensioners mobilise to stop eviction


National Education Union

Council seeks to take budget deficit out on school staff and pupils



Newham housing repairs workers announce strike dates



Bradford NHS workers strike against privatisation



Health visitors strike for the first time ever



Wales: chronic NHS underfunding exposed

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019