The decision of the lord chancellor, Michael Gove, announced last week, to scrap the criminal courts charge is very welcome. The fee, ranging from £150 to £1,200, depending on whether the defendant pleaded guilty, was indefensible as magistrates and judges had no discretion by reference to the means of the offender or the circumstances of the offence. As Jeremy Bentham wrote in 1793, “the statesman who contributes to put justice out of reach . . . is an accessory after the fact to every crime”.