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Junior crime barristers accuse government of ‘divide and rule’ tactics over pay deal

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Open letter urges criminal lawyers to remain united

Junior barristers are warning the government not to try “divide and rule” tactics with criminal lawyers as the profession votes on a new pay deal.

A group of criminal juniors has organised an open letter telling the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) that its “attempt to sow division” among defence and prosecution barristers won’t work.

Earlier this month criminal barristers voted overwhelmingly for “direct action” over pay, with over 90% support for action on both defence and prosecution fees. The all-out walk-out would see the criminal courts grind to a halt on 1 July.

But days later the MoJ made the mutinous advocates a new offer, which the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) says should be accepted in return for calling off the stoppage.

The open letter calls for the profession to remain united whatever the result of the latest ballot. It says that the deal tries to divide prosecuting barristers from those that do mostly defence work, offering an increase in prosecution fees and nothing but vague promises on defence rates.

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While the MoJ may be hoping to get the action called off by winning over prosecutors, the letter points to the separate votes on action over both defence and prosecution fees. The organisers say that the “all or nothing” offer is a cynical tactic to drive a wedge between the two groups:

“We see this for what it is; as an attempt to divide and rule — holding prosecutors to ransom for an increase they desperately need (and deserve) at the expense of tangible progress for the defence bar.”

It adds that “to accept that prosecutors are underfunded but make any increase in funding contingent on outside factors is, quite simply, to act in bad faith”.

The organisers, a grassroots collective from various chambers, have collected 80 signatures so far and are pushing for more juniors of 0-10 years call to sign (those interested can email in by Sunday 30 June).

The criminal bar has been sharply divided over the deal, with CBA leaders complaining on Monday that “many of the criticisms published on social media are rubbish or fantasy”.

Barristers have taken to the blogosphere to promote or denigrate the deal. One anonymous junior said on Tuesday that “voting for this deal gives juniors an immediate financial boost from September 2019”, to the tune of 25-40%.

But Simon Csoka QC wrote on the View from the North blog that “if we call the action off, then the threat will never again be taken seriously”.

Read the open letter in full below

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15 Comments

Anonymous

Brothers! Sisters!

Socialism under Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister will be transformational!

Legal aid funding will be trebled by a windfall tax on City greed! 75% income tax!

Freedom for Palestine! Down with sinister metropolitan elites! We need to increase immigration from the Muslim world!

Open door immigration! Taxes on greed! And a green revolution! Ban the motorcar!

VOTE CORBYN

FOR THE MANY, NOT THE FEW!!!!!

(3)(15)

Anonymous

Agreed brother

We need to look seriously at a 4 day week, a universal basic income of £30k, and a redistributive green agenda as we transition to eco-socialism

We need to act now to save the world from catastrophe. Carbon rationing and permits for all

(3)(2)

Anonymous

Err I represent the Socialist People’s Revolutionary Forum (post-patriachry wing) and I find your mansumption that the original poster is ‘male’ and self-defines accordingly to be grossly offensive.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

I’m getting tired of their moaning. They have forced the functioning parts of the Bar to pay more and more of the costs of running the Bar Council while burning up the limited funds for legal representation of the profession on doomed judicial reviews about their fees.

(4)(19)

Anonymous

Remember, they make a living out of devising rhetoric to manipulate emotions

(3)(14)

Sam

Although it is true. They’re literally starving. Some are becoming solicitors and at least one I know of has become an Uber driver.

(5)(0)

Not Alex Aldridge

Can’t believe I’m still writing this crap at 41

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Fun fact: Alex is in fact in his 40s (deep in his 40s), and still has no career

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Wouldn’t say 41 is deep into 40s, but companies house records do confirm age

(0)(0)

Mr Clock

Jesus, 50 in 9 years.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Literally what is alex’s ‘career’?

Anonymous

That letter is a bit theatrical and pompous. Can’t the crimbos ever do calm plain speaking?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

No. Those that can’t, crimbo.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Moaners who live of taxpayers money. If they do not like the terms, many other occupations are available.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

Do piss off. They get peanuts for the work which is done, often at less by than minimum wage when it’s all worked out.

(1)(0)

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