The demonstration on 07 March 2014 in support of Legal Aid in Old Palace Yard, Westminster (outside Houses of Parliament) was possibly the largest gathering of protesting Legal Aid Criminal Lawyers and Supporters ever assembled, and became known as “Grayling Day”, after the man responsible for the cuts, MP Chris Grayling.
The demo raised the profile of the fight against Legal aid cuts. Guardian report here
Highlights in this short film on YouTube
The Fight to Save Legal Aid
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling introduced further cuts to Legal Aid which threatened to destroy the ability of firms or individual lawyers to properly represent clients if reliant on legal aid.
The demo was not about Lawyers livelihoods. This was about equal access to justice for all, not just those who can afford to pay privately. No action was taken to stop wealthy defendants getting Legal Aid because their assets are “restrained” so they can’t use them to pay legal fees (as Martin Bentham pointed out here)
I had the privilege of compering the demo, organised by LCCSA and the Justice Alliance, supported by revolting lawyers, inspirational speakers, MPs, and an effigy of Grayling. Many Legal Aid Lawyers were not working on the first ever full “strike” (day of action.) Concerns about the justice system were the theme. (BBC coverage here)
A full list of speakers with a summary of their contributions HERE.
I had previously blogged about a Legal Aid day of action in the New Year, (January 2014) but this demo was the first ever full-day National day of Action (aka a strike) by Criminal Lawyers.
Sadly, a year later the fight was ongoing, and we were back again.
We kept fighting until Grayling had his day. Chris Grayling was demoted after the election, and replaced by Michael Gove,, who was in turn replaced by Liz Truss and two further changes before the lamentable appointment of the current incumbent.
Eight years after Grayling Day demo, there has been no positive outcome, and legal aid cuts together with court closures and general underfunding of the criminal justice system have meant that once again lawyers are taking action- with a day of action scheduled for 26th June 2022.