Criminal legal aid cuts threaten right to protest
A major threat to political protests of all kinds is currently being consulted on by the government and hardly anyone knows anything about it.
Under new proposals to cut legal aid further, criminal legal aid will become pretty much non-existent. What the proposals mean is that criminal suspects will lose their rights to choose or dismiss a solicitor, and the number of accredited legal aid firms will drop from 1,600 to less than 400 – raising the inevitable outcome of hundreds of small high street firms being replaced by huge contractors like G4S and Eddie Stobart.
The government have labelled this process by the memorable name of 'competitive tendering'. In other words, privatisation by offering contracts to whoever can offer the cheapest rate, ie G4S and co. You would be better off representing yourself then being represented by G4S!
Nearly every lawyer in the country, except those working for companies such as G4S, have come out strongly against the proposals including The Law Society and The Criminal Bar Association. However, most people aren't taking any notice. The lawyers need supporting otherwise by the end of the year the make up and possibility for protests in this country will be seriously undermined.
Alfie Meadows, beaten up by the Police at a student protest would not have been acquitted without criminal legal aid. For Plane Stupid - many of us would probably be in jail by now without proper legal representation.
On Wednesday a demonstration will take place outside Parliament at Old Palace Yard from 10.30am. We urge you to go down there and make your voice heard.
To keep up to date with all the developments and resistance to the plans please visit: http://www.defendtherighttoprotest.org/