Grayling's proposals for the criminal law are anti choice anti small business and will lead to the destruction of a world class justice system.

28 Apr 2013 at 11:54

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the imbecilic Chris Grayling is hell bent on destroying the independent criminal bar and ethnically cleansing family solicitors from the high street. I warned that consultation would be a farce and that legal sweat shops who won’t give a damn about standards and who think that ethics is a place where you sell dodgy cars, get a fake tan and drink cocktails so sweet as to send you into a diabetic coma, will be our sole gatekeepers to justice.

I was wrong.

Grayling’s plans are far more sinister, damaging and financially foolhardy than I had ever dreamed of. Without a shred of evidence he has concluded that by reducing the number of providers (solicitors) from fourteen hundred to four hundred the taxpayer will save £230 million a year. Now I am no mathematician but if the number of cases remains broadly the same where does this figure come from? Ah, says Grayling, actually the number of cases before the courts is falling.

And he is right. Not because of a massive drop in crime but because of an insidious practice where offenders are very often not even charged. Why, because they are not guilty? No. To save money. The SUN has reported the massive increase in police cautions over the last few years. Many for hardened criminals and some for serious sexual offences. I am aware of serious frauds which are regarded as far too expensive to prosecute. This is not just a national disgrace but an affront to every decent law abiding citizen who deserves to feel safe in their homes and on the street.

It is not Conservative.

We have been told that the bar will be excluded from competitive tendering, but it makes no difference. Solicitors will have to compete for a franchise against really big business most of whom have had no legal experience nor training. It sounds like a sick joke but G4S could well be a major player in this. So what happens to a small/medium sized but efficient firm of solicitors who offer a decent service? They will be thrown to the wolves. And what choice will the public have? Now this you will love as it is so Sir Humphrey. None. There will be a bureaucracy who will determine whom your legal representation will be. So far nobody has worked out how much they will cost. And the legal corporations will not instruct skilled and experienced barristers. They’ll keep the cash and send a kid to court on the cheap.

So what do we have? A government that believes in law and order but lets criminals off to save cash.

Insane.

A government who believes in choice in education and in health but not for someone who could wrongly have their reputations trashed or wrongly imprisoned.

A disgrace.

A government who believes in small businesses who will be throwing a thousand efficient and cost effective firms to the wall. And losing generations of skill and expertise.

Unforgivable.

But there is something even worse. We are told that there will be a financial incentive to lawyers if their clients plead guilty. I believe in incentives for the guilty to put their hands up at an early stage. But to offer us more money if they do will certainly lead to dodgy advice from the new corporations. We’ve had casino banking, welcome to casino law, where the house will always win. And justice always loses.

Has anyone thought through where the new generation of judges will be drawn from? It’s too far down the road so I doubt it. But after the independent bar is dead and buried and high street solicitors ethnically cleansed it will be from the legal sweat shops manned by under qualified and underpaid nine till fivers. So the next plan will be for the judiciary to be a separate career structure.

God help us.

In the next few weeks of “consultation” barristers and solicitors will be deciding how we should react. We are not demanding more money, nor asking for the swingeing cuts to our fees to be reversed. We just want to warn the public that they are about to lose something very precious.The right to a fair trial. The right to be properly represented by those who will give unbiased advise which will be in their clients interests not those who want to make a fast buck.

Can you imagine the uproar if a nurse accused of assaulting a patient or a teacher having sex with a child was given legal advice by an inexperienced under qualified lawyer. And then wrongly advised to plead guilty because the lawyer will earn more money for his corporation? And can you imagine the pressure that these young lawyers will be under to give only the advice that earns the most cash?

Soon it will be the norm unless the public wake up to what is happening.

These proposals were put forward under Labour and I hear whispers that they have realised they made a colossal mistake. Sensible Tories like Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, are troubled. But what of Nick Clegg who should be a champion of justice?
And what of David Cameron for whom I have nothing but admiration?

These policies are anti choice, anti small business and will turn our world class and well respected criminal justice system into something that would cheer Putin or Mugabe.

These are not Conservative polices and should be strangled at birth.

As it appears none of this requires primary legislation there is a good chance that none of this will debated in Parliament. Please sign the e petition
e petitions. direct.gov.uk/petitions/48628
It says, “the MOJ should not succeed with their plans to reduce access to justice by depriving citizens of legal aid or the right to legal aid or the right to the to representation of the solicitor of their choice”.

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