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Legal aid campaign to launch next month

20 December 2010

Justice for All, a coalition of advice centres, law firms, politicians and trade unions, will launch its campaign to save civil legal aid in parliament next month.

Peter Hay, spokesman for the coalition, said it hoped to build on support from sympathetic MPs, up to 20 of whom attended an adjournment debate on the legal aid cuts at Westminster Hall last week, led by Labour MP Karen Buck.

Hay said the government’s own impact assessment had shown that half a million people every year would be denied access to legal aid from 2011 if the cuts go through.

“Where will people, who are among the most vulnerable and marginalised, get support?

“Some will find their way to MPs’ surgeries, where staff will not be able to help them.”

To underline the message to MPs, Hay said the campaign had sent them Christmas cards, showing Santa struggling under an enormous bag of ‘constituents’ problems’.

The Legal Aid Practitioners’ Group, the Legal Action Group, the Law Centres’ Federation and the CABx have all joined the coalition, alongside the union Unite, and the charities Shelter and the Child Poverty Action Group.

At this stage the Law Society, Bar Council and ILEX are not formal members.

“There is a growing concern among a body of MPs about the impact this will have on the wider public,” Hay said.

“MPs are very aware, through their surgeries, of the problems of vulnerable people.”

Justice for All will present a dossier of case studies to justice secretary Ken Clarke as part its response to the consultation on the legal aid green paper, which ends on 14 February 2011.

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Legal Aid Expert witness Vulnerable Clients