#OpCotton ‘reserved’: Case so far explained through 9 memorable tweets

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By Alex Aldridge on

The judgment on the case that threatens to derail the government’s legal aid cuts has been “reserved”, with the judges hoping to rule within a “short space of time”. Here is what has happened so far.


1. #OpCotton, an abbreviation for the “Operation Cotton” case, or, to give it its proper name, R v Crawley and others, has famously pitted the Prime Minister against his criminal barrister brother.

2. Alex Cameron QC of Three Raymond Buildings has been acting “bro bono” (according to a typo in the first instance judgment) for five defendants accused of a complex fraud. Last week he argued that the legal aid cuts made it impossible for the defendants to gather a proper defence team. No barristers would take on the case in full because the government has cut their fees in complex cases by 30%.

3. Cameron QC won, with Judge Leonard QC accepting his arguments and staying (aka terminating) the proceedings. The judge said that it would clog up the courts to adjourn the case, adding that there was no reason to think that the defendants would be able to find suitably qualified barristers to represent them in the future.

4. The decision left Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who has been the driving force behind the cuts, under pressure.

5. Having decided to appeal the ruling, the government retreated to prepare its case.

6. That appeal began this morning at the Court of Appeal, with the legal profession seeking to hold its position and the government arguing that the case should have been adjourned rather than stayed.

7. After a tense day in court, journalists nervously awaited the outcome.

8. In legal aid lawyers’ dreams this is what happened next…

9. But, in reality, this is what happened.

For the latest news on the ruling follow the #OpCotton hashtag.