July 2013

Tom Robinson: there’s one law for the rich, and another one for the poor

July 31, 2013

There were a number of musical interludes at the Rally for Legal Aid yesterday, including this song written especially for the occasion by Tom Robinson. A few of the lines might be uncomfortable hearing for some lawyers: “soliciting”, the narrator’s father thought, was “enforcing for the bourgeoisie”, and the “whore” Justice’s “chummy smug monopolies are […]

Read the full piece →

Josie Long: I can’t believe A.C. Grayling is doing this

July 31, 2013

“I’m just some idiot really,” she began. But the comedian Josie Long explained that she wanted to speak in support of legal aid because “this is something that affects everybody in this country”. It’s difficult, she said, “to live in a society where the government seems committed to creating and exacerbating social inequality”. On behalf […]

Read the full piece →

Shauneen Lambe: defend the children of the poor

July 31, 2013

The Executive Director of Just for Kids Law Shauneen Lambe told the Rally for Legal Aid yesterday that she’s “scared to live in a country where something we hold as so fundamental is being eroded by the government, and no one can see that they’re taking away the fundamental rights of the citizens”. She asked […]

Read the full piece →

“Sally”: legal aid meant my daughter could get some form of justice

July 31, 2013

One of the speakers at yesterday’s Rally for Legal Aid was “Sally” – the mother of a rape victim, as the flyer for the rally described her. For understandable personal (and legal) reasons Sally asked not to be photographed or recorded. But after the rally she kindly agreed to let me have the text of […]

Read the full piece →

Raphael Rowe: news coverage of legal aid “a travesty”

July 31, 2013

The BBC Panorama reporter Raphael Rowe told yesterday’s Rally for Legal Aid that the BBC and other news organisations are “not doing anything to look at the legal aid system”, and that that’s “a travesty”. “They should be doing more”, he said. Earlier, he’d explained that he owes a lot to the legal aid system. […]

Read the full piece →

Sadiq Khan: we probably have the most legally illiterate Lord Chancellor in the history of our country

July 31, 2013

Labour’s Shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan MP relished attacking Chris Grayling in his “Rally for Legal Aid” speech outside the Old Bailey yesterday. Grayling, he said, was a man with no idea of our history who believes “if you are charged with a criminal offence, you are a criminal”, that if a judge finds against […]

Read the full piece →

Shami Chakrabarti: the place where I grew up

July 31, 2013

Here’s Shami Chakrabarti’s speech at yesterday’s “Rally for Legal Aid” outside the Old Bailey. Hers was the best speech of the day, I thought, telling her listeners about a country “not so very far from this one” where if you needed medical or legal help “nobody would once have looked for your handbag or wallet”. […]

Read the full piece →

Alan Turing: the stain should not be erased

July 22, 2013

The government has said it will support Lord Sharkey’s bill aimed at giving a posthumous statutory pardon to Alan Turing for an offence under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. Here’s a transcript of Friday’s second reading debate in the House of Lords. And here’s the bill. I need say nothing about Turing’s […]

Read the full piece →

The Irish abortion bill

July 12, 2013

Last night the Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish Parliament, passed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Here’s the text, which must now be considered by the Seanad. If voted through there, it will come into law if and when it’s signed by the President. Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 […]

Read the full piece →

Vinter, Bamber & Moore v UK: whole life prisoners must have the “experience of hope”

July 9, 2013

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the system of “whole life orders”, whereby in England and Wales a mandatory life sentence may be imposed and the possibility of early release denied under section 269(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, amounts to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in breach of article […]

Read the full piece →