Legal aid is a ‘basic human right’ not an ‘economic benefit’, says Jeremy Corbyn

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By Alex Aldridge on

Lawyers lap up Jezza


Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has reaffirmed his opposition to Tory cuts to justice system funding by describing legal aid work as a “basic human right”.

Speaking last night at the Justice Alliance’s ‘Voices for Justice’ rally in central London, Corbyn thundered:

We will support and defend the principle of legal aid. Courts and law centres are closing down. The opportunity to be represented at employment tribunals has gone. It’s a denial of justice. I would not say that legal aid is an economic benefit, it’s a basic human right.

He added that “hardworking, underpaid lawyers doing their best to put something into society should be valued not denigrated” and thanked those who went on strike last year. The lawyers in attendance — who had brought with them a papier mâché model of Michael Gove made in the style of previous models of ex-Justice Secretary Chris Grayling — naturally lapped this up.

The left-wing Labour chief — who used to sit on the parliamentary Justice Select Committee — also reflected on the economic case for state-funded access to justice as he claimed that for every £1 spent on legal aid the state saves £6.

Previously Corbyn has pledged to restore legal aid funding to past levels if he is elected, and gone as far as to urge law students attracted to “stick at” pursuing legal aid ahead of corporate law if they can.

Steps to reinstate legal aid funding are being led by former justice minister Lord Bach — whose Twitter name is @FightBach. His review of legal aid will be launched next month.

Lead image via the Criminal Bar Association.