David Davis MP warns against “rushing into cost-cutting measures which could undermine British justice”
“Today’s announcement on legal aid is a step in the right direction.
Plans to limit the number of legal aid firms, and to award contracts to the lowest bidder, were flawed from the start. I am delighted that the Justice Secretary has scrapped these proposals, which would have put penny-pinching above the interests of justice. The Justice Secretary’s new proposals appear to have the support of the Law Society and are far more workable with less risk to the delivery of justice in the UK.
However, there remain serious problems with the Government’s proposals. The 12 month residence test could deny justice to non-UK citizens who have been wronged by the British Government. Legal aid-funded cases have exposed British complicity in torture and rendition, given the public the truth in the wrongful shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, and brought justice in the murder of Baha Moussa – all things the public has a right to know about. The unvarnished residence test could stop such cases ever reaching the courtroom.
Rightly or wrongly, the reforms to judicial review funding give the impression that they are designed to stop legitimate challenges to government policy. The Government should drop these changes, or risk looking like it wants to act above the law. In return for miniscule savings, these reforms threaten the whole process that keeps governments in check.
Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights is now looking into the matter, and will no doubt have constructive recommendations to make. The Justice Secretary should wait for their report before rushing into cost-cutting measures which could undermine British justice.”