The London Advocate

Advocate Issue 76

PUBLISHED September 25, 2013

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" - Charles Dickens's description  of the French Revolution only begins to reflect this period in the life of the association: the proposals with which our members are threatened  - amounting to a death sentence for the majority - are terrifying; but there have been few occasions in our history when we have seen such commitment, courage and unity in response.
The campaign against the Ministry of Justice's proposals in Transforming Legal Aid, which has now taken on a national profile, was ignited by the LCCSA, with its eye-catching demonstration outside Parliament  on 22 May. At the same time, feverish activity was going on unseen, with our president, helped by previous presidents Greg Powell, Ray Shaw and Paul Harris, briefing the press, MPs and senior members of the judiciary.
The breadth and intelligence of the campaign is, we hope, reflected in this issue of the Advocate: two eminent academics explain what a huge step backwards these proposals would mean for justice in the criminal courts; Clive Stafford-Smith, who, with Reprieve, represents impecunious  defendants in the USA, demonstrates the dangers in following an American approach;  Michael Turner QC, of the Criminal Bar Association, reflects a welcome unity across the professions and Steven Bird points the way forward for the campaign by describing legal challenges that may
be made. In addition,  this issue tells the story at the heart of our members' concerns: a vulnerable client describes the excellent service he received from his legal aid solicitor, when the rest of the criminal justice system was, he felt, letting him down.
The PCT sub-committee will continue to meet to plan where we go from here: continuing  to fight and to move forward by proposing  sensible alternatives
to PCT.
There is not space in this editorial to name everyone who has worked so hard. As an exception, Ann Crighton, now retiring from the CPS and simultaneously stepping down from the LCCSA committee,  has long performed  a superb role for the association - keeping the committee  informed of developments and fighting our corner whenever an opportunity arose. To Ann - and all LCCSA contenders - well done and thank you.