Timid approach from representation bodies should be binned, advises Sir Anthony Hooper, in bid to put fire in belly of criminal law practitioners
A retired Court of Appeal judge has implored legal aid lawyers to ignore overly cautious professional bodies and launch a “revolution” of wide-spread strikes to battle budget cuts.
Sir Anthony Hooper QC told a rally in London yesterday that if the Conservatives were returned to power in the general election, it would be “time for a revolution”.
Crime specialist legal aid lawyers were rallying at Westminster Central Hall in London in the latest round of protests against the last government’s swathe of cuts to legal aid funding.
Sir Anthony — a former chairman of the Inns of Court School of Law (now City Law School), who sat on the Appeal Court bench from 2004 to 2012 — told solicitors and barristers that they should ignore the diplomatic inclinations of their representative bodies.
The former judge specifically accused the Law Society, Bar Council and even the Criminal Bar Association of being too timid in their objections to the reforms triggered by former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
Meanwhile, Laura Janes, the chair of the Young Legal Aid Lawyers and a crime and prison law specialist solicitor at London law firm Scott-Moncrieff, told a separate meeting:
“Ten years ago, I would not have believed any government would make massive cuts to the remit of services on top of funding cuts. Changes to the scope of legal aid have left vulnerable people completely cut off from certain parts of the law.”
Janes was speaking at an event marking the 10th anniversary of the group. Flagging up the forthcoming general election, she went on to say:
“The question we must ask ourselves … as we prepare to cast our votes on 7 May, is how much do we value justice?
“We must make sure that the politicians we elect do not demean the notions of equality, fairness and justice by preventing people from accessing the courts.”