Monthly Archives: November 2015

Time to replace the Criminal Court Charge with a fair and simple system

The unloved Criminal Court Charge is unfair in principle, and unworkable in practice. Time for a rethink!

(An earlier draft of this blog was published here on the Justice Gap Website.)

Introduced without consultation, debate or Parliamentary vote, it has by removing discretion created an inflexible system with sometimes draconian consequences that have offended justice to the extent that Magistrates have resigned over the issue.

The charge is applied even to defendants with no ability to pay- the homeless man fined for begging, the shoplifter stealing food to feed their children, the alcoholic street drinker for breaching an asbo, and the criminal without savings who has just received a lengthy prison term.

The principle – that criminals should pay toward the cost of the Courts that hear their cases as a result of their crime-can be justified (although it rather assumes that all crime is either a conscious decision or “lifestyle choice” rather than acts unplanned or arising from external circumstances or mental illness). But the replacement of discretionary costs awards, subject to means and the circumstances of the offence, with a fixed mandatory amount is risible, and have now been condemned by the Justice Committee. (Report, November 2015)

With a higher charge on conviction, It is an incentive to plead guilty irrespective of guilt, at least for the poor ( a banker on a motoring case who can afford to pay  a “Mr Loophole” type lawyer privately in the hope of getting off may not worry about the CCC, a student in debt with a disputed drunk and disorderly charge may be worried about the costs if convicted after trial)

Why should the Charge go to “Court” costs, rather than eg Prosecution costs (still discretionary, and now often reduced to take into account the Court charge) or indeed the defence costs in Legal Aid cases? (1)

A New Approach

Let us scrap the Criminal Court Charge.  Let us also scrap “contributions”  toward prosecution costs, and the Victim Surcharge. (although for compensation, see note 2 below)

And -please- let us not introduce a “Defence Charge” (or any other new charges)

 There should instead be one charge available to the Court.

Let us call it the ” Criminal Case Charge.” (3)

There can be a presumption in favour of an award being made, and it should be reduced for guilty pleas, but it must be discretionary, and take into account the means of the offender, and the nature of the sentence passed.

It can be punitive for the rich offender, eg the wealthy fraudster on dishonesty who has soaked up enormous costs in lengthy jury trials with little prospect of imprisonment if convicted.

It can be reduced or even waived for those imprisoned or with no means to pay.

The money could be divided between all the components of the Justice System. 94)
This would simplify the system, bring revenue into the Justice System from those who desrve to pay and can afford to pay, without penalising those undeserving or unable to pay.

It could actually bring Justice back into the Justice system.
Greg Foxsmith 26/11/2015

Notes

1 Currently on conviction (or guilty plea) the Court will be invited to make an award toward Prosecution costs, which when granted offsets their costs, wheras the legal aid costs (pitiful in comparison) receive no such award- and thus we hear the wailing about the “high” legal aid budget, which receives no share of the defendants “costs” awards when convicted, and no contribution from the Prosecution budget in cases which have collapsed or been discontinued but which should never have been brought.

2 The Courts should retain the power to award compensation, which should take precedence over the new  charge, just as it does now (one of the unintended consequences of the Criminal Court Charge being that Magistrates compelled to make the charge have sometimes reduced compensation as a result)

3 Actually, you can call it what you like. The “Universal Charge”?  The “Justice Levy”?

4 It could be eg 30% each to Court Service, Prosecution and Legal Aid budgets, with 10% to a Victim Service (Victim Support, Witness Care)

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Observations on the Inquest of Imran Douglas, died aged 18, in Belmarsh Prison. Verdict: Suicide

“…and was found suspended in his cell”.Those factually accurate, if rather mundane words, conclude the narrative verdict of a Jury enquiry into a suicide in Belmarsh prison of an 18 year old.

Introduction 

On 13 November 2013 Imran Douglas took his own life in Belmarsh Prison.

On 08 November he had been sentenced to life imprisonment at the Old Bailey.

I had previously blogged about his death here.

Imran was only 18 years old, vulnerable, and was an acknowledged risk of suicide or self-harm. He should have been in Feltham Young Offenders Institution rather than Belmarsh high security adult prison. 

Inquest

The Inquest into Imran’s death reconvened on 12 October 2015, the day after what would have been his 20th birthday. The evidence was presented before an Inquest jury at Southwark Coroner’s Court, who heard from representatives of the prison service and social services, amongst others, and lasted three weeks.

Imran’s family attended every day, and I was able to attend for a few days to support Imran’s Mum Carla.

This blog was written with Carla, and is dedicated to her.

Carla has provided the photos of Imran which are reproduced with her permission. Representation below (notes)

The short life and tragic death of Imran Douglas.

Imran was born on 11 October 1995. 

  
His parents separated and Imran was brought up in East London primarily by his father and stepmother, and much later for a short period with Carla in Cambridge. 

In April 2012 he was crossing a road in London when he was hit by a speeding police vehicle, which put Imran into a coma, and after he regained consciousness was found to have a severe personality change.

On 24 May 2013 he committed a horrendous murder. He was still only 17.

He was arrested the same day. He remained in custody until his death, less than 6 months later, and just 5 days after he had been sentenced to life imprisonment (with a minimum tariff of 18 years)

He hung himself in a solitary cell, in Belmarsh Prison, on 13 November 2013, just one month after his 18th birthday. Although he should have been under observation, by the time prison staff had found Imran’s body, rigor mortis had begun to set in. 

The murder of Mrs Gilbey

In writing about the death of Imran, and describing his life and death as a tragedy, it may be suggested that the enormity of his crime is overlooked. It is not. The principal victim here is Margery Gilbey, the person killed by Imran. 
She was an innocent, vulnerable elderly lady who lost her life in a brutal and undeserved attack for which Imran was responsible.

Imran recognised that, acknowledging his guilt by pleading guilty (a rarity in murder cases)

His family also recognise that, were appalled at the crime Imran had committed, and have never sought to justify his act, minimise his role or diminish the enormity of his crime. 

Everybody without exception is appalled by that crime, and all feel sorrow at the loss of Mrs Gilbey, and sympathy for her family. Finding sympathy for Imran or his family will understandably be harder, because his short life will be defined by and remembered for his homicidal act. But if it is too much to expect sympathy, we could at least look for understanding.

Carla has had to struggle both to understand how and why her son could have committed that fatal crime, as well as how and why Imran’s life ended so abruptly soon afterwards.

There will be some who say that Imran deserved to die, and doubtless few other than his family who will shed tears at his loss. They are entitled to that view. But for Carla and his family, they have endured a double tragedy. Firstly struggling to come to terms with what Imran did, and the consequences of that for the victim and her surviving family, as well as for Imran and then learning of his sudden death. 

And all of us should recognise that a death of a young person in custody is a tragedy, and a failing of our Justice system. We have in the UK the most punitive sentencing regime in Europe, we imprison more young people and for longer than any other European Country, but we do not have the death penalty. If the appropriate penalty is punishment by deprivation of freedom, then we as a civilised Country should expect that the custodial environment should be humane, safe and rehabilitative. 

Who was Imran Douglas?

Imran was brought up and schooled in east London. 
He had an elder sister. They both lived with his father and step-mother, there was nothing extraordinary about his upbringing, and no indicators of violence, gang associations or issues with drugs or alcohol. He had some behavioural issues at school, and was due to be assessed for ADHD. He was outgoing, communicative and remembered by his family as a happy, outgoing child. Carla recalls his “cheeky smile”.

  
Imran After the Accident


 On 07 April 2012 Imran was hit by a police car travelling at high speed. 

Imran suffered a severe brain injury as a direct result, and was admitted to hospital where he remained in a coma. He suffered “focal haemorrhages in both his frontal lobes” and post-traumatic amnesia for three weeks. After coming out of the coma, it was recorded that he was left with the mental capacity/cognition of a 6-11 year old, with “mood swings, memory loss and episodes of extreme low mood when he considers harming himself”. 

It was also noted that his IQ was reduced to 55, which places him in the category of “learning difficulty”.

Initial repors post-accident show Imran had problems with memory recall, planning, impulsivity and organising. (Later assements (Bluebell House, below) appeared to show some progress in recovery, but the family believe he never fully recovered and continued to exhibit erratic behaviour )

He became short-tempered, and his family noted anger-management issues and occasional aggressive behaviour. After his release from hospital, Carla noted a severe personality change. “It was as if Imran were a different person”. 

Imran was seen by Occupational Health until November 2012, but by January 2013 Imran was reported to have become “morose”, withdrawn and “talking about killing himself.”

After discharge from hospital Imran remained in East London initially with family before putting himself into the care of Tower Hamlets Council (he became a “looked after person”)

By April 2013 Imran was regularly “missing” from home, and his father asked Social Services for help.

On 15 May Imran was by agreement taken into care by Tower Hamlets Local Authority. He was accommodated in Norman Grove Care Home, but this was a bad judgement and the placement did not go well. Imran’s father asked for him to return home, but with support. 

Sadly, the next call they had was following Imran’s arrest.

Imran in custody

Imran remained in custody from his arrest, as would be normal on a murder charge. As a 17 year old remanded in custody Imran spent some time in Medway Secure Training Centre (run by G4S) following his arrest, and the remaining time in Feltham Young Offenders Institution (other than a period of assessment in Bluebell House secure hospital for assessment) .

As an 18 year old following sentence, he was technically eligible to be detained in an adult prison, following a recent (and controversial) change in prison regulations. In his particular case, although he was therefore eligible for transfer to an adult prison, he should NOT in fact have been sent to Belmarsh after sentence, but returned to Feltham until a transition plan was prepared.
He arrived at Belmarsh, without all the proper paperwork, and the little information available was ignored. He was given a perfunctory assessment, and confined in a solitary cell in a normal wing.

He was the first eighteen year old ever to be sent directly to Belmarsh following sentence.

He lasted less than a week.

Questions 

The inquest was an enquiry into the cause of death for Imran. 
How is it that a young man in custody and therefore in the care of the State, is able to take his own life? Much of what Carla wanted to know was beyond the remit of the jury, but she had the following questions:-

-To what extent (if at all) was the car accident that apparently changed his personality a causal or contributory factor to Imran’s homicidal act? No jury findings on this point

-Was Imran properly assessed and adequately cared for and supervised by the health and mental authorities responsible for his discharge from hospital and post discharge care and treatment? No answers on this point

-Did Tower Hamlets Council,  responsible for Imran’s care after he became a “looked after” child under the responsibility of Social Services, properly discharge their duty of care to him? 

Not directly answered by the jury, but the sentencing judge had been very critical of Tower Hamlets’ failure to appropriate place Imran before the offence. 

-What was it that caused Imran to kill (Carla appreciates that it is unlikely she will ever receive an answer to that question)

-Why after sentence was Imran sent to Belmarsh high security adult prison, rather than Feltham YOI? 

The jury found a catalogue of errors, of planning, supervision and communication.

-Why did Belmarsh not receive the proper paperwork and medical records, alerting them to Imran’s risk and vulnerabilities? Why did Belmarsh fail to properly assess or recognise Imran as a vulnerable young person, particularly given the obvious circumstances of his age and the sentence that had just been passed. The inquest heard of a woefully poor assessment system, that ignored warning factor

-Why did he take his own life? He was depressed, suicidal and vulnerable, but warning signs were ignored.

-How was he able to take his own life, and why did the prison authorities fail to prevent him? 

Tragically, Imran was just one of many young people who took their life in prison. Report into prison deaths here.

  

Chronology

11/10/95 Imran born

07/04/12  Imran hit by police vehicle

15/05/13 Imran taken into care

24/05/13 Imran commits murder 

13/07/13 transfers to Bluebird House hospital for psychiatric assessment 

17/09/13 transferred to Feltham YOI

07/10/13 Imran pleads guilty to murder

08/11/13 Imran sentenced to life imprisonment, goes to Belmarsh

13/11/13 Imran dies in Belmarsh Prison.

A Note Summarising the Findings of the Jury 

Jury Conclusion : Suicide.  Narrative Note summarised:

Imran Douglas had a history of suicidal thoughts of which his family, the youth offending team, and some,but unfortunately not all, of those responsible for his welfare in custody were aware. Despite the manifest risk of suicide there were a number of significant factors contributing to his death, including a lack of planning, and a failure of care.
There was a systemic lack of communication between, and within, almost all the agencies involved most notably within Feltham Young Offenders Institution”
Imran had just turned 18 and was sentenced following the introduction of a new policy of locating offenders aged 18 to 21 in an adult prison family.
A principal factor was his presence in Belmarsh prison, to which it was never intended to should be sent. He arrived in the month after his 18th birthday having been sentenced to a minimum of 18 years for murder (far longer than he had expected)

The reason Imran was in Belmarsh was the failure of management and staff at Feltham to draw up a transition plan for him as he neared his 18th birthday and sentence. 
Nobody took responsibility to make arrangements, and inexplicably nobody contacted the youth Justice board regarding his future allocation 

As a result no one was aware of what was intended for Imran on the day he was sentenced.

The jury found a “serious and unacceptable failure in communication.

 When Imran did not return to Feltham no enquiries were made as to where he had gone.

There were reports about Imran which showed in the starkest terms that he was a suicide risk.

 A critical shortcoming was the basis of decisions about Imran when he was at Feltham. starting off with his discharge from mental health care which wrongly placed him as a “low risk”

Imran then had sent a letter to the judge before sentence containing a direct threat to kill himself and there were further indicators of self harm in a Pre-Sentence Report which again appear to have been disregarded by all those who should have acted.

 When Imran arrived at Belmarsh, reception staff were dismissive of any potential risk and a Care UK nurse at reception dismissed any concerns as “inappropriate”. 

Imran was superficially assessed and passed fit. 

It is clear from the evidence that staff at Belmarsh were well aware the prison was about to handle 18 to 21-year-olds for the first time, however there was no effort to pay any special attention to particularly young prisoners arriving, nor where they told anything about the environment from which they were coming. “Even experienced officers were not aware of Imran’s background from his records at Feltham”

Staff did not act on the fact that he had transferred straight from a young offenders institution and in very difficult circumstances. 

He was given the most basic of assessments and a GP examination was even more cursory, merely noting that Imran “feels okay”. 

A Psychiatric report had been faxed to Belmarsh by the court and uploaded by mental health staff at the prison, but not fully opened or read.

When a decision was finally made that Imran should be transferred to the ” vulnerable prisoner unit”,  it was full so he was placed in an ordinary adult block. His cell, by the admission of prison staff at all levels, was not suitable. 

He had limited scope for association. Staff on his block were not told they had a vulnerable person or an 18 year old in their charge. Those who saw him on the Tuesday noted that he did not want to come out other than to collect his meal (not even to make a phone call that might have told the outside world where he was) but detected no signs of abnormality. However, a prisoner in an adjoining cell had conversations with Imran and found him nervous.

Imran remained under routine supervision until the moment next morning when he was found suspended in his cell.

Conclusion

Imran was the first 18 year old ever sent to Belmarsh prison following sentence.He lasted less than a week.

Carla hopes that lessons will be learned, so that if youths continue to be sent to Belmarsh, they will be better looked after than Imran was.

  

Notes

1 To find out more about the issues surrounding the shocking rate of self-harm and suicide in British prisons, check out and support the campaigning charity INQUEST

2 Carla was supported by Inquest, and represented by  Kirsten Heaven instructed by Charlotte Haworth Hird of Bindmans

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LCCSA- President’s Speech , AGM, 09 November 2015

Welcome to the LCCSAGM!

1 The thank-you bit

It is of course an enormous privilege to become LCCSA President. I am struggling to come to terms with my election, as is Jon Black, who has proved remarkably reluctant to relinquish the President’s medal (or as Jon has taken to calling it, “my precious”…)

  
I’m not sure if Jon had taken to sleeping with the medallion , but when he eventually handed it over there were a couple of chest hairs still attached…

It’s also a bit daunting accepting this responsibility, given the high calibre of my predecessors, many of whom are here tonight.
I joined the committee when Akhtar was President, followed by Nicola, two top quality acts.

I have to say its hard to follow on from Jon. His hard work over the last year has been an inspiration. 

Thankfully, he stays on the committee for a further year.

Sadly however, we lose some committee members -and I add my thanks to Zaki, Ed, Julian, Nicola,and Tim. 

First toast – Jon Black and the retiring committee.

2 Meet the Team

The good news is we have retained all of our co-opted senior statesman-Steve Bird, Ray Shaw, Malcolm Duxbury and the legendary Paul Harris. 

We also have retained the services of Ali, Sandra, Rhona and Lucinda.

Rakesh becomes our treasurer, Mark Troman our secretary, Mel Stooks stays on as media officer,and will be looking after the Advocate, with which she will be helped by Emma Lipscombe, Diana remains training officer and Tony covers Law Reform. 

And the wonderful Jenny Wiltshire is a fantastic Vice-President. She has asked me to make it clear she does not wish to be President next year, so ladies and gentleman… there is a vacancy for next November!

I want to introduce you to our new members:-

Leigh Webber….Daniel Godden….Pam Reddy….Charmaine Jaipaul….Kerry Hudson 

Our committee is diverse, and has firm owners, employees, freelancers, contract winners, contract losers, white-collar crime firms, legal aid firms and private, extradition lawyers, those that use in-house advocates and those who brief counsel. I want to keep this Association relevant and vibrant , meaningful and fun. We don’t just want to represent you, we want to involve you.

Toast- the new committee

3 The President’s wife
So… President. How did that happen?
Having been parachuted in at short notice, I’ve had very little time to prepare or get used to the idea.

If I had planned this AGM, it wouldn’t have been in a swanky restaurant at £60 a ticket. I thought, none of my mates are going to pay that to come along on a Monday night in November. 

But here you all here, you fat-cats you!  This magnificent attendance is,I think, an LCCSA record for an AGM, and shows this Association is in good fettle. I thank you.

I still haven’t got used to the idea of being President.

Mrs F, however has already become used to the idea of being a president’s wife. She has become increasingly gubernatorial, and very grand. Please do genuflect and pay all due obsequies before her.

Those who know us both know that she really is my better half. I have always, quite rightly, bowed before her, but this morning for the first time I was  reprimanded for “not bowing deeply enough”

Toast-the President’s wife

4 A life of crime

So, how did I end up here?

My first experience of justice goes back long before I became a lawyer and relates to an unfortunate incident when I was at school as follows:-

(Anecdote removed- not suitable for on-line publication )    c e n s o r e d

… then the teacher called me forward 
“Foxsmith did you  c e n s o r e d ?!

NO I lied.   Shameful.

I know, you are disgusted.

An Interview without caution, not advised of right to silence, and without an appropriate adult!

The interrogation continued

“Then why ….c e n s o r e d …c e n s o r e d

I know what you are thinking.  Outrageous!  This hadn’t been raised in pre-interview disclosure!

I was “convicted” in this shocking travesty of justice!
As you are all lawyers I tell you this story in confidence and ask you to apply LPP- its certainly not a story suitable for social media!

But I learned an important lesson from that experience.

Always make “no comment”. 

I was later anyway expelled from school just after fireworks day 30 years ago. I had been working as a Saturday job in a shop that sold fireworks, and the manager gave me some damaged boxes that he couldn’t sell. There then followed a small misunderstanding about a pyrotechnic device in a classroom, and (c e n s o r e d) 

Foxsmith, if you don’t mend your ways you’ll end up spending your life in the criminal justice system”

And here I am.

5 Articles (Edward Fail )

After qualifying, I started at EFBW 222 years ago this month.  One of the first people I met there was newly qualified solicitor David Macintosh, who beame a good friend.  We lost David this year (obituary here) and there have been others whose passing we mourn.

Toast: To absent friends

Other heavyweight lawyers at the firm were my supervising partner Eddie Preston, Howard Riddle (now Chief Magistrate), Nigel Dean (now DJ Dean) John Lafferty (now HHJ Lafferty, and my good friend and outstanding lawyer Peter Fallen, who I am delighted to see here tonight. 
And not forgetting Paul Harris.

Paul has served 25 years at Edward Fail.

He has served several lifetimes at the LCCSA. He was President, and has remained an active supporter, writing and editing the TT, serving on committees, meeting Secretaries of State, mixing it up with Judges on the CRC.

He is hard-working, loyal, dedicated -and is by unanimous approval of the committee a most deserving recipient of the LCCSA Lifetime membership award, which, previously unbeknown to him, we are now about to present via our guest Karl Turner       Paul , come up please

  

Members , please raise your glasses and toast….Paul Harris!

6 An introduction to the LCCSA

It was whilst at EFBW that I was first introduced to the LCCSA.

I couldn’t join as an “articled clerk” , but came to the Summer dinner- or the “touts ball” as it was still known -when a solicitor couldn’t attend.  I was possibly the youngest attendee there.

It was black tie, and the Grosvenor ballroom was crammed full of hundreds of senior lawyers, Judges, QCs, partners.   I apprehensively descended the staircase, into bacchanalian mayhem.

There was reckless and heavy consumption of alcohol and …c e n s o r e d , the speeches were drowned out in a cacophony of noise, and there was later a disco where portly senior counsel with red braces matching their dickie bows were throwing themselves around like John Travolta.

It was a hideous, Hogarthian display of unrestrained over indulgence. 

I loved it.

After articles I joined a firm in Walthamstow where I began my advocacy, attending daily at WFMC.
Those who say solicitor advocates “don’t have the training”, clearly didn’t have the experience of daily attending a MC with a busy list, and defending in trials before case-hardened magistrates.

It was the very best training.

On my first day I represented somebody with 50+ convictions, which was therefore at 50 more court appearances than I had. 

I worried I may be of little little practical help in offering advice to one so experienced. I asked him about his plea “is it G or NG?”

To which he thought carefully and then replied:- ” remind me- which is which?”

7 HJA and Shearman Bowen

I later moved to HJA 
I built up Civil Libs experience, and enjoyed deploying the HRA. Happy times.

Unfortunately, there was a dark cloud hovering over us at that time, a malevolent, brooding presence.

I refer of course to the Carter review. 

At the time that was considered to portend the destruction of criminal legal aid work as we knew it. Little did we know what was to come.

Next: Shearman Bowen 
There I gained Higher Rights and began advocacy at the Crown Court. I have enjoyed that ever since, but am constantly reminded of the status of HCAs. I know my place!
One of my hopes for this year ahead is to improve and extend Advocacy Training through the LCCSA, working with SAHCA.

SAHCA -who are represented her tonight-battled for better treatment of HCAs, and successfully won the right for Solicitor Advocates to wear wigs in the interests of parity, a right I have myself not chosen to exercise. Last week there was a report published which criticised the experiences of non-lawyer participants at the Crown Court, in which reference was made to the alienation felt by ordinary court users confronted by barristers swishing about in gowns and wigs. 

A spirited defence of wigs  was made by some of our bewigged friends at the bar- “dignity of the court, providing anonymity, staus, the confidence it gives young or junior counsel…” etc

Perhaps after all the wearing of a wig enhances the status of the advocate.

I will try it now, and judge for yourselves whether there is an improvement… (dons wig. Remainder of speech with enhanced advocacy)

  

Finally- freelancing. I think I am the first President who is an independent freelancer. 
But throughout all I have been in the LCCSA.
I have enjoyed the benefits and the camaraderie.

As President, I will keep the traditions and key services, but do some things differently too, I’ve blogged about it, no need to repeat it here tonight.

8 LCCSA Police Station ID card

I even have an LCCSA Police Station ID card, although not renewed mine since 1999. 

  
For several years I had annually renewed and always carried my ID card, but never actually been required to produce it. 

Until….the one day that I forgot to carry the card, which of course was the day that PC Precious demanded one. 

I had other ID of course, and explained my role.

“But how do I know you are a solicitor?” asked our suspicious  Plod.

I looked him steadily in the eye, and replied as follows:-

“It is the middle of the night, this Police station is in the middle of nowhere, and the suspect I am asked to represent is pyschotic….who the hell else but a solicitor would put up with this c e n s o r e d on these hourly rates?”

Ignoring the logic of this, Plod again suggested that I may be an “imposter”, to which I responded that he may want to arrest me for Pervertingthe Course of Justice or impersonating a solicitor, which would at least achieve mr required wish and get me into custody.

PC Plod persisted in his protestations that I would not gain access. Tempting though that thought was, I resolved:-

Firstly, that I would gain access (which I did) and furthermore that I would never again carry an ID card to a police station (which I have not) -and although my childish response has created many an enjoyable argument over the years, it is not a course of conduct that I recommend others to follow….

I still have that 1999 card. (Pictured above)

I still had hair then.I no longer have the hair. Perhaps another reason why I am, after all, better off with a wig….

9 Fighting for Justice

For last 3 years the LCCSA committee have been on a rollercoaster. 

We have been under a sustained attack, and we have fought back. 

We have campaigned, protested, demonstrated, withdrawn services, and been on strike.

We have battled the most infamous and incompetent of Lord Chancellors, the odious Chris Grayling.

To be perfectly blunt, he was a total  c e n s o r e d

We have rallied in Parliament square, outside Westminster Magistrates Court, the Old Bailey and MoJ HQ, and we walked from Runnymede to Westminster, and an impeachment hearing for the Lord Chancellor.

Campaigning together, fighting for justice. I carry the scars on my back:-

  

And we took legal action against the MoJ, with our JR at the High Court. I was at all those events, this committee were there, and I know that in person or in spirit you were all there every step of the way.

We now have an opportunity to talk to Mr Gove and the Government,and to make the case against cuts and for a properly funded sustainable justice system.

This year we will by necessity be less focussed on direct campaigning, this is a year for consolidation and focussing on our core commitments. 

 10 And in conclusion…

As a freelancer, I work for big firms and small, private and legal aid, two-tier contracts, single-tier contracts and lots- of -tears no contracts.

I want the Association to represent all those interests too. I want us to be more diverse, broader, larger, stronger.

I want to be representative and democratic- its your association – what do you want from it, what can you give to it?

If you are not already a member, please join.

If you are a member, encourage others to join.

Please give generously to our JR costs appeal.

(fundraising appeal)
I pass now to our guest speaker, Karl Turner MP.

Karl was a barrister who practiced criminal law, and now ably represents his Hull constituency,one of the safest Labour seats. He has been and remains a staunch supporter of Legal Aid, and spoke at our rally in Parliament Square.

Karl, we are very glad to have you here.
Members, friends, thank you all for coming.

With your help and support the LCCSA has a strong future.

Final toast -the LCCSA