Sir, The Legal Services Commission makes a duty solicitor available free of charge at every court to represent clients who are not represented and who face loss of liberty. Free legal aid also continues to be available at the police station.
Parliament has approved a means test for those charged with criminal offences. Where a client is not entitled to legal aid at the magistrates? court on the grounds of means, it is a decision for that client whether to pay for representation. The LSC has also taken steps to ensure that lawyers will represent a client where there is doubt about the grant of legal aid by ensuring some payment. We are ready to consider affordable improvements to the new means testing system, as Legal Aid Minister Vera Baird recently made clear. But it would be wrong to believe that those who fail the means test are left without support.
Chief Executive, Legal Services Commission