Brandon Lewis out weeks after striking barrister pay deal
One-time Linklaters trainee Dominic Raab has become a two-time Secretary of State for Justice following his reappointment to the role by new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Raab’s first stint at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), that ran for 12 months from September 2021, saw the former Magic Circle rookie become a bogeyman to the criminal bar.
When he was last in the role, criminal barristers had been demanding a pay rise for legal aid work following an Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid. This concluded that “funding for criminal legal aid should be increased overall for solicitors and barristers alike as soon as possible to an annual level, in steady state, of at least 15% above present levels”.
When industrial action was first taken back in April after criminal barristers stopped accepting returns (where a barrister will fill in for another barrister who cannot attend court and represent their client), Raab heightened tensions by describing the decision to strike as “unnecessary and irresponsible”, linking the action to court delays.
His replacement Brandon Lewis, who resigned yesterday after nearly two months in the job, managed to successfully broker a deal with the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) whose members, following a tense ballot, narrowly accepted the government’s offer of a 15% increase in legal aid rates, 10% less than the CBA’s initial demands.
Lewis also saw that Raab’s pet project to replace the Human Rights Act 1998 with his British Bill of Rights Bill was scrapped.
In response to Raab’s reappointment, chair of the CBA Kirsty Brimelow KC tweeted: “I look forward to a fresh start, building on the work of his predecessor, for the Criminal Justice System.”
Barrister Suella Braverman has also returned to the post of Home Secretary after her recent resignation from the role for breaking the ministerial code.