Legal Aid

Is the legal aid brief jinxed?

PUBLISHED May 16, 2006

Vera Baird, QC, appointed Legal Aid Minister last week, is the third in eight weeks.

Lawyers are hoping that Baird, long tipped as ministerial material, will last a bit longer than the others. Harriet Harman took over legal aid from Bridget Prentice on March 15 as part of a reshuffle of responsibilities caused by a possible conflict of interest resulting from her husband Jack Dromey's exposure of the loans-for-peerages affair. Richard Miller, director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, says: "Three different ministers in eight weeks is a shabby way to treat the legal aid system. But we're hopeful that Vera Baird's appointment will prove a good one. She has a sound understanding of many of the issues facing the legal aid system."

With Baird's arrival Lord Falconer of Thoroton's ministers keep their nickname - Charlie's Angels. After the muddle when it was reported that Baroness Ashton of Upholland had been appointed part-time Farming Minister, she stayed after all - and becomes a Privy Councillor to make up for the fiasco.