Steve McCabe MP expresses concern over legal aid changes

The Coalition Government is proposing to cut £300m from the criminal legal aid budget

Steve McCabe MP has expressed concern over the Conservative-led Government’s plans to reform the supply of legal aid. The Coalition Government is proposing to cut £300m from the criminal legal aid budget.

 

The Government seeks to do this by changing the model on which legal aid services are purchased by reducing the existing 1,400 local providers to 400 larger providers. The Government is also proposing to change the fee structures for payment to lawyers, by reducing the fees payable by up to 17.5% and removing the ability of defendants to choose the lawyer that will defend them.

 

The implications of this are significant – there will be more miscarriages of justice, innocent people will be coerced into pleading guilty, and quantity will trump the quality of the legal advice that is provided.

 

Steve McCabe MP said:

“Criminal legal aid has long ensured that all those accused of a criminal offence can have an effective defence, whether guilty or not. 71% of the public think that cuts to legal aid could lead to the innocent being convicted of crimes.

 

“It is crucial that legal aid is focused on those that most need the support. Those that can pay their legal costs should do so.

 

“However, the Government is putting at risk the integrity of the justice system. These proposals will compromise the justice system and are not in the interests of the victims of crime.

 

“The priority must be to maintain the integrity of the justice system so that the public, victims and witnesses have confidence in a system which delivers fair and open justice”.

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