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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 February 2016

Lawyers defeat Tories' unjust legal aid cuts

Solicitors and barristers protest outside Leeds combined courts, photo Tanis Belsham-Wray

Solicitors and barristers protest outside Leeds combined courts, photo Tanis Belsham-Wray   (Click to enlarge)

Paul Heron, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers executive committee (personal capacity)

Justice Secretary Michael Gove made a complete u-turn on cuts to legal aid at the end of January.

He has scrapped plans for a two-tier contract system, and suspended an 8.75% cut to payments for criminal law solicitors. The victory has effectively prevented the closure of up to 1,000 law firms and saved jobs. But most importantly, it will undoubtedly prevent miscarriages of justice.

Central to the victory was criminal lawyers withholding their labour, refusing new cases in protest. The campaign which forced the climbdown was the work of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association and the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association. It also involved rank-and-file lawyers pressuring the leadership of the Criminal Bar Association to support the massive anger in the profession.

The campaign garnered support from all sectors of the legal profession, including those who were victims of 'British justice'. Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four and Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, wrongfully convicted of IRA pub bombings. And Raphael Rowe of the M25 Three, wrongfully convicted of robbery and murder.

Retreat

This retreat arrived only weeks after a rally of 400 organised by the Justice Alliance. The rally heard Jeremy Corbyn describe access to legal aid as a human right.

It also followed a consultation involving 16,000 responses which spelt out loud and clear that the Tories' disastrous scheme would deny access to justice for ordinary people. The Tories ploughed on regardless as always, but have now been called to account.

Members of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers played a key role during the dispute. We called for united, escalating strikes against the attack. This, along with pending litigation, brought the battle to a successful conclusion.

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In The Socialist 10 February 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight council cuts!

Tories bankrupting NHS

Defiant mood as junior doctors demonstrate

Lawyers defeat Tories' unjust legal aid cuts

Cushy government job for Amazon boss

'Pro-rape' anti-feminist Roosh V humiliated

Liverpool fans walk out against ticket price hikes

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What we think

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Don't give money to Ukip and Tory EU campaigners!


Momentum, Labour and the Socialist Party

Lack of strategy and exclusions threaten Momentum

Birmingham: socialists kicked out of Momentum

Labour right wing blocks call to debate budget cuts


Socialist Party workplace news

No-cuts strategy needed to save 25,000 council jobs

Local government union backs no-cuts council budgets

Big victory at Small Heath School against academy attack

Cuts to premiums mean no 'rise' in store for Tesco workers

Leicester taxi dispute: Labour's rank hypocrisy

South London: Library workers strike to save services

Continued action in crane drivers' pay dispute

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Portsmouth: support for anti-austerity stand

Leeds meeting expresses Corbyn and McDonnell's contradictions

Socialist Party members inspired by conference

Torbay: "A tale of two towns"

Anger against plans to close Bradford libraries

NHS campaign gains support


International socialist news and analysis

Sanders' socialist message rattling the establishment

US elections: Clinton coins it

International news in brief


 

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