Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner is reiterating calls for a complete Government rethink on legal aid reforms which would deny justice to those who need it most.
Tony Lloyd was backing comments by the UK’s top judge, Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger, who has said reduced access to legal aid would be a ‘rank denial of justice and a blot on the rule of law’.
The Ministry of Justice wants to ‘transform’ legal aid in a bid to cuts costs. But the proposals have so far met criticism from legal experts forcing Justice Secretary Chris Grayling into a u-turn on some aspects of the proposals, including plans to introduce price competitive tendering for legal aid contracts.
But the Government is still pressing ahead with plans to cut the budget for legal aid which would reduce the number of legal aid cases and could stop people receiving legal advice and representation.
The consequences of this, says Lord Neuberger, would mean that a person who cannot get legal aid will drop the claim, or they will continue to pursue the claim inefficiently, which will take up more of the court staff’s and judge’s time both in and out of court, resulting in more costs and delays to the court system.
“Cutting legal aid will deprive the most vulnerable in our communities who need the protection of the courts and legal system the most. This is unacceptable and is why I support the comments made by Lord Neuberger,” says Tony.
“I’ve said before that these plans are ill-thought out and Chris Grayling has already made an embarrassing climb-down on plans to take away people’s right to choose their own solicitor and to tender out legal aid contracts to the lowest bidder – which would have effectively turned the legal aid system into a form of bargain-basement justice.
“These proposals continue to unravel and it’s time the Justice Secretary listened to the legitimate concerns of the judiciary and legal profession and go back to the drawing board before he destroys the justice system of which this country is renowned the world over.”