‘Pay criminal barristers properly’, says PM hopeful Nadhim Zahawi

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By CJ McKinney on


New Chancellor wins place in next round of leadership contest, along with AG Braverman and law grad Badenoch

Nadhim Zahawi – credit: BBC News

Nadhim Zahawi has made it into the knock-out stages of the Conservative Party leadership contest after voicing his support for hard-up criminal barristers.

Touting his “five pledges” if elected leader on BBC Breakfast yesterday, the Chancellor pledged to: “put more criminals behind bars. The police do a great job catching criminals — violent crime, and of course cyber crime is a big thing — but the infrastructure that sits behind that, our courts, are creaking. We need to make sure that we unlock that pipeline and get more criminals behind bars — including, by the way, paying criminal barristers properly”.

The Stratford-upon-Avon MP would offer “an above-inflation pay rise to criminal barristers in an attempt to end strike action”, the Times (£) reported yesterday. That’s along with a £215 million increase in spending on the courts, for a total of £1 billion extra on “courts, legal services and the criminal bar”, according to Zahawi supporter Amanda Milling MP.

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But Zahawi has also floated the idea of a 20% cut in departmental budgets. HM Courts and Tribunals Service accounts for about one fifth of Ministry of Justice spending, so increasing its budget while expecting an overall saving appears ambitious.

Criminal barristers are withdrawing their labour from Monday to Thursday, the third week of their walkout. The Criminal Bar Association reported a “constructive” meeting with new justice minister Sarah Dines but urged members to keep up the pressure.

The next round of the leadership race takes place today, with candidates needing the votes of 30 Conservative MPs to progress. Voting closes at 3.30pm with results announced shortly after.

Attorney General Suella Braverman (who dished out the gong for Best Journal at the Legal Cheek Awards earlier this year) and Birkbeck law grad Kemi Badenoch are also in the running.

A Spectator magazine tally of who MPs are supporting puts Rishi Sunak way out in front, but the final choice will be made by party members from a shortlist of two.

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