Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has welcomed a u-turn on legal aid reforms but has warned the Government to have a complete rethink on the proposals.
Tony spoke out last month against plans to overhaul the legal aid system which would take away a defendant’s right to choose their solicitor.
Now, after pressure from the legal profession, backed by Tony, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, has made a dramatic climbdown and said he will look again at this aspect of his proposal, which would have seen people allocated a solicitor by the state.
However, this is just one part of the plans, which would also see legal aid contracts put out to tender – effectively transforming the legal aid system into a form of bargain basement justice.
Tony said: “These proposals presented a real threat to our world-renowned justice system, taking away the fundamental right of all of us to a fair trial and is why I wrote to the Justice Secretary to ask him to think again.
“This is victory for the legal profession and shows that the Minister’s ill-thought out plans are starting to unravel. It highlights the true power a strong, combined voice can have on challenging the Government and winning.
“However, I am disappointed that plans to put legal aid contracts out to tender – creating a legal system that is driven solely by the cheapest price – are still on the table. The result of this will be less qualified people, performing duties currently carried out by professional, trained, experienced lawyers. This is wrong and we must continue to fight government against these reforms.
“Chris Grayling has proved himself capable of listening to legitimate public concern by changing his mind on one aspect of his plans. Is he big enough to have a complete rethink and not sell-off our justice system?”