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Behind bars | Democracy, the rule of law and secret files

For all the setbacks civil liberties lawyers have suffered, they would still rather hold a practising certificate than a lorry driver's licence, says Jeannie Mackie

2 July 2013

Until last Monday (24 June) there was only one game in town - the transformative effects of the MoJ's legal aid wrecking ball on the justice system. This Monday, another absorbing topic hit the headlines - the news that undercover police had been set to spy not only on the Lawrence family during the so-called investigation into the murder of their son, but also on Dwayne Brooks, who was with him when he was attacked. As if that was not enough, there was officially sanctioned sniffing around the whole campaign for justice for Stephen, the aim being to find information that might discredit and blame a family and community hunting for justice. On top of that we now know that undercover police officers not only used sexual relationships to get into the heart of protest groups, but that one of them co-wrote the McLibel leaflet which led to the longest libel trial ever, and the energetic pursuit by an enormous corporation of two impoverished defendants, with no legal aid but...

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