‘It’s completely wrong’: falsely accused Tory MP attacks legal aid cuts

From The Guardian: The former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans, who spent his life savings defending himself against false accusations of rape and sexual abuse, has said he would now vote against the Legal Aid cuts brought in by the Conservative-led coalition.

His call to restore funding to its pre-2012 level comes as other prominent Conservative MPs including Bob Neill, the chair of the Commons justice select committee, say the savings were excessive and may have displaced costs on to other departments.

Neill, a barrister, has said the original impulse may have been to cut down “on some instances of needless expenditure” but the pendulum has swung too far. “The evidence is pretty compelling that changes are needed … We cannot expect people who often have multiple problems in their lives necessarily to be able to resolve such things on their own,” he said.

Evans, the Tory MP for the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, spent about £130,000 in 2014 fighting charges that he raped a university student and sexually assaulted six other men over a 10-year period.

He supported the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (Laspo) when it was passed by parliament in 2012, but says his experience since then has proved to him the act was wrong and that the legal system needs an injection of cash.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Justice ‘only for the wealthy’: Law Society condemns legal aid cuts

From The Guardian: It is increasingly difficult for defendants and claimants to find solicitors prepared to represent them due to government legal aid cuts, the Law Society has warned.

In a fiercely worded attack on funding restrictions, Christina Blacklaws, the society’s president, said British justice now existed “only for the wealthy, or the small number on very low incomes lucky enough to find a solicitor willing and able to fight a mountain of red tape to secure legal aid.”

Public access to justice and the right to a fair trial has never been so restricted, according to the organisation that represents solicitors across England and Wales.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]