The prime minister's brother has acted pro bono to argue that five defendants charged with fraud cannot receive a fair trial as none is represented by counsel because of action against legal aid fee cuts.
Alex Cameron QC (pictured) of 3 Raymond Buildings appeared at Southwark Crown Court today representing Brendan Daley, Scott Crawley, Daniel Forsyth, Dale Walker and Aaron Preston in the first case to be brought by the Financial Conduct Authority. All five deny charges of fraud.
Reporting restrictions were lifted by His Honour Judge Leonard.
Sean Larkin QC, Ben Emmerson QC, Paul Raudnitz and Polly Dyer represented the prosecution, while Tom Little was instructed by the attorney general to act as a friend to the court.
The FCA conceded that the five defendants could not have a fair trial at this stage as none is represented and sought an adjournment. For the defence, Cameron argued that the case should not be adjourned, but stayed.
Cameron told the court: 'The state has failed to provide adequate representation to allow a trial to take place.'
The trial date, set down for next week, has been listed for the past 11 months. Following the imposition of 30% cuts to fees in very high cost cases (VHCCs) in December, advocates originally instructed returned the briefs.
All other barristers have continued the boycott of VHCCs despite the deal agreed between the Criminal Bar Association and Ministry of Justice to postpone further 6% fee cuts until after the 2015 general election in return for barristers suspending their protest action.
Judge Leonard is to rule on a stay on Thursday morning.