In the Media, Legal Aid

Firm acts pro bono for 81-year-old hit by protest

PUBLISHED April 29, 2014

An 81-year-old man caught up in the criminal solicitors' fee cut protest has been released on bail after spending 13 days in custody.

Harry Harrison, who is partially deaf, was granted bail with stringent conditions by judge Jeremy Richardson QC at Hull Crown Court (pictured) after the firm that represented him at the police station, Pepperells, agreed to help pro bono.

Harrison, who is charged with attempted murder in circumstances arising from a neighbour dispute, had appeared before judge Mettyear without representation. He denies the charge.

Solicitors in Hull are supporting 'no to Crown court' protest action in response to fee cuts and planned contracting changes. With the exception of youth cases, solicitors have not been accepting new Crown court cases since the beginning of the month.

Pepperells' senior partner Ben Pepperell told the Gazette: 'We have represented him pro bono for the bail application only on the basis that this is an exceptional case but we are still adhering to and supporting the national Criminal Law Solicitors' Association protocol.'

Judge Mettyear, who remanded Harrison in custody, told the Gazette he was concerned about the personal circumstances of the defendant.

'He is 81, has no previous convictions and he appeared in court with no teeth, no glasses, no hearing aid and no representation. It is a case where someone urgently needed to make a bail application on his behalf.'

Commenting on the situation, Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull East, did not blame the solicitors, but said: 'It's a perfect example of the system failing as a result of government plans. Solicitors last month had their fees cut by 8.75% and another 8.75% cut will come in with the new contracts. Firms can't cope.'

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