Grayling comments re PCT at House of Commons, Justice Questions 21st May 2013

Below is a short summary of comments made by Chris Grayling.

We are seeking views on PCT at present. LAA figures are available.

No intention of ending up with a legal aid market dominated by small number of firms.

There will be a quality threshold to ensure advocacy and litigation at a level we expect.

We will ensure that criminals are getting a proper defence – affordability and quality are required but we need a balance between the two.

Criminal fees will be streamlined, I have told barristers and solicitors that this is a consultation. We are challenged financially.

It is put to Grayling that access to justice will be at an end. He responds “we have no intention of awarding contracts on price alone”.

LAA has discretionary funding to deal with unexpected cases, but immigrants should be here for a period of time before accessing funds.

RE today’s report that 70% of the public believe proposals will lead to innocent people being convicted, he is asked “do you think miscarriages of justice are a price worth paying for your position?” – He responds: “You don’t understand what we have to do to balance the books.”

MP from Newcastle refers again to today’s report re legal aid fears. She asks him to meet with her to discuss matters as she believe that this will increase costs to the taxpayers. Grayling: “I have already met lawyers and I will be listening to all representations I receive. We cannot avoid difficult financial decisions, best balance between justice and price to taxpayers.”

When questioned re choice of solicitor and a bid from corporations such as Stobarts – he says that the comment is “what I would expect from Labour”. He continues – this is about firms considering how they will adapt and we need better value for money for the taxpayer, it is not about large corporations. Grayling also states “I know which route I’m taking” in relation to saving money.

Asked re Law Society Gazette interview – it is put to Grayling that he has no support, injustices and no choice of solicitor – Grayling says he stands by the interview, “we are 3 years into this govt, we have financial issues to deal with, we need to create a system that is affordable”.

It is put to him that choice of solicitor at threat to vulnerable and those who cannot afford to pay -he responds “vulnerable people will not have their legal aid removed… unless they have sufficient means to pay for it themselves.”

He is asked what impact assessment he has made towards miscarriages of justice? He side steps the issues and says “Proposals will deliver a proper balance.”

Most significant comment, in my opinion – “No change is simply not an option”.

I had to switch off after all that.

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6 thoughts on “Grayling comments re PCT at House of Commons, Justice Questions 21st May 2013

  1. It is extremely disappointing to have what many of us already suspected, confirmed. Mr Grayling has already made up his mind; he is intent on CPT regardless of the consequences, in particular the inevitable drop in standards in representation and access to Justice. He is deluded if he thinks that this is good idea and best serves the general public This is not about saving money, it is about control and works on the premise that if someone is charged with a crime, well then they must be guilty.

    • I agree. He and the government he represents [and, for all I know, the Prime Minister he hopes to replace, given current rumours – but can that be why he is playing so hard to the right?] simply do not care about the rights – or, more importantly, the vulnerabilities – of ‘ordinary people’. Put more simply, they think that only the proles ever get charged with crimes, and those who are charged are probably guilty anyway. And if those who have been wrongly convicted can’t get access to justice or proper representation on appeal, then who cares? They don’t.

      They forget – more properly, choose to ignore – that ‘ordinary people’ are often accused of crime, and are often not guilty. The Express reader whose daughter is charged with causing death by dangerous driving because a small child runs in front of her car? The Mail reader whose son is remanded in custody for 6 months or more because a jealous ex-girlfriend has accused him of rape? The obvious need for long, sensitive conferences with worried clients? The even more obvious need for proper inquiries to be made into complainants’ medical records? Social services histories? No matter: those accused of crime have only themselves to blame, are assumed to be guilty before we start [see Grayling’s ealier, many, references in the media to “criminals” whan he means “those accused of crimes but who are presumed innocent unless proven guilty”], and don’t deserve to have any say in who repsesents them, or in the conduct of their defence. That’s all fine. They are, after all, not Tory voters.

      He’s wrong. He needs to be told so. His stance is merely: blinkered [see his statements in the press, particularly those which have only been published on line rather than in print editions – he’s said in terms that he will go ahead whatever he is told by those who know]; illogical, even on his own terms – in the sense that it will do nothing to save the money he says he wants to save [extra costs and court delays incurred by defendants representing themselves; costs and court delays incurred by increased appeals against conviction; compensation claims against arrogant police officers who think they can get away with it? Which Middle England taxpayer has thought about these, just for starters?]; and will put thousands of ordinary workers out of work. But again: who cares? Those workers only represent the ‘criminals/proles’; or they are only the people who clean the offices of/answer the phones for/do the filing for the people who work 18-hour days to make sure our basic rights are protected.

      But Grayling/Cameron/May [Don’t forget her, as Grayling’s likely opponent for leadership soon!] don’t care about all of that. Others should.

  2. He is also deluded if he thinks that the contract proposals doesn’t mean a few large firms rather than many SMEs. I know from speaking to one of those at the roadshows that they seriously think that small firms will be subcontracted by the large “entities” that get the contracts. What they don’t get is that if people don’t bid or can’t bid for these contracts there will be no small firms to be subcontracted out to.

    Oh and if the big firms take a 17.5% minimum cut then the small firms will be taking an even bigger cut with no assurance as to the crumbs falling from the big table. Nobody could survive such a market.

  3. Pingback: Save UK justice: the blogs | ilegality

  4. all sounds scary and it’s really worrying that ‘Joe Blogs’ and ‘Sid’ and all the rest of us ‘little people’ aren’t aware of what’s happening to our justice system because we have an innate trust in the British justice system even though we don’t really understand a lot of it because most of us don’t ‘use’ it so naturally don’t assume it’s under threat.

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