Press Release: UK Uncut promise disruption over legal aid changes

Posted on Wed 25th Sep 2013, 7:13am
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | @ukuncut



UK Uncut promise disruption over legal aid changes

Roadblock protests in opposition to changes to legal aid will go ahead, campaign group UK Uncut have confirmed, as the inquiry into the changes by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) draws to a close [1]. The JCHR had written to the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, asking that legal aid changes should not be implemented before the inquiry is able to report, a request that has been refused [2].

UK Uncut spokesperson Jim Thompson said: “Time and time again, this government has signalled its contempt for the principle of access to justice; refusing to wait for the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ inquiry findings before implementing its legal aid proposals is just one example of this.”

“Changes announced earlier this month do not alter the government’s fundamental assault on the foundations of the democratic system through these proposals, which are deliberately designed to further marginalise the most vulnerable people in our society.” 

He continued: “Because the government has continually refused to listen, UK Uncut’s Roadblocks for Justice protests will happen as planned on October 5th. We know that this will be disruptive. We know that it will stop the traffic. But we know that this kind of direct action works.”

The activists plan for roadblocks in London and around the UK, and have enlisted the support of other direct action groups, including Disabled People Against the Cuts, Plane Stupid and Fuel Poverty Action [3, 4, 5]. The protest groups explain that their actions would be “symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice”. [6]

The government’s reforms have come under increasing criticism, with England’s most senior family judge recently describing them as ‘disconcerting’ and suggesting that ‘something needs to be done’ [7]. In July, the government was forced to backtrack on a key part of the reforms, that of removing the right of legal aid defendants to choose their solicitor, following protests [8].

The government claims that changes will improve efficiency in the legal system [9], but this claim has been challenged by research showing that the estimated £6m savings will be dwarfed by £30m in knock-on costs [10].

Sarah Price of UK uncut said “The changes in legal aid are an assault on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. By insisting on these so-called ‘cuts’ the government takes away our ability to challenge their decisions, allowing them to cut deeper and without legal challenge.”

Lynn Jacobs, a UK uncut supporter said “I will be supporting this action because I have already seen the impact of legal aid changes. I fled an abusive relationship and was not sure what to do to protect myself. Because of the changes to legal aid I could not afford get a court order to protect myself from my ex-partner. I feel sad that the government does not want to help to protect me, and women like me, from violence. Why can’t the government make companies pay their fair share instead of punishing people like me?”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

[1] http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/joint-select/human-rights-committee/news.... The inquiry, into ‘the implications for access to justice of the government's proposed legal aid reforms’, will stop taking written submissions on Friday 27 September 2013.

[2] http://www.parliament.uk/documents/joint-committees/human-rights/GEN%20%2813-14%29%20027%20-%20SoS%2...

[3] http://dpac.uk.net/

[4] http://www.planestupid.com/ 

[5] http://fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/

[6] http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/october-5th-join-uk-uncut-to-save-justice

[7] These comments were made in a recent court case and are recorded as part of the official transcript. See http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2013/08/23/family-division-president-says-legal-aid-cuts-disconcerting...

[8] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23132233

[9] https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-legal-aid

[10]  http://legalaidchanges.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/nick-armstrong-costing-the-civil-legal-aid-propos...


Press release: Roadblock protests to go ahead despite announcement of “meaningless and cynical” changes to Legal Aid reforms.

Posted on Thu 5th Sep 2013, 8:39am
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | @ukuncut

Roadblock protests to go ahead despite announcement of “meaningless and cynical” changes to Legal Aid reforms.



Campaign group UK Uncut today confirmed that road blockades planned in opposition to changes to Legal Aid would go ahead, in spite of a new consultation on parts of the reforms [1]. The protests, entitled “Roadblocks for Justice”, had already been planned in opposition to what campaigners described as “dangerous changes that will destroy democracy” [2].

Responding to the announcement that the Ministry of Justice will be rethinking some of its reforms, UK Uncut spokesperson Jim Thompson said: “The legal aid bill will destroy the crucial principle of equal access to justice, and Chris Grayling’s announcement today does nothing to change that. Despite today’s U-turn, the Legal Aid bill will still endanger the fundamental democratic principle that citizens should be able to challenge the government when it makes bad decisions.”

He continued: “These reforms will rip away the foundations of the democratic system, making the weak and vulnerable voiceless. UK Uncut’s Roadblocks for Justice protests will happen as planned on October 5th, in spite of today’s meaningless and cynical announcement”

A statement on the UK Uncut website encouraged groups from around the country to increase efforts to organise road-blocks on October the 5th. The group was unapologetic as to the disruption that would be caused, saying “We know that this will be disruptive. We know that it will stop the traffic. But we know that this kind of direct action works”.

The activists plan for roadblocks to happen in London and around the UK, and have enlisted the support of various other direct action groups, including Disabled People Against the Cuts and Plane Stupid [3, 4]. The protest groups claimed that their actions would be “symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice”. [5]

The government’s reforms have come under increasing criticism, with England’s most senior family judge recently describing them as ‘disconcerting’ and suggesting that ‘something needs to be done’ [6]. Last month the government was forced to backtrack on a key part of the reforms, that of removing the right of legal aid defendants to choose their solicitor, following protests. [7]

The government claims that changes will improve efficiency in the legal system [8], but this claim has been challenged by research showing that the estimated £6m savings will be dwarfed by £30m in knock-on costs [9].

Sarah Price of UK uncut said “The changes in legal aid are an assault on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. By insisting on these so-called ‘cuts’ the government takes away our ability to challenge their decisions, allowing them to cut deeper and without legal challenge.”

Lynn Jacobs, a UK uncut supporter said “I will be supporting this action because I have already seen the impact of legal aid changes. I fled an abusive relationship and was not sure what to do to protect myself. Because of the changes to legal aid I could not afford get a court order to protect myself from my ex-partner. I feel sad that the government does not want to help to protect me, and women like me, from violence. Why can’t the government make companies pay their fair share instead of punishing people like me?”


ENDS




Notes to editors:

[1] The confirmation comes after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced a partial U-turn on the Legal Aid bill in an interview with the Times. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/law/article3860956.ece

[2] http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/october-5th-join-uk-uncut-to-save-justice

[3] www.dpac.uk.net

[4] http://www.planestupid.com/

[5] http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog/october-5th-join-uk-uncut-to-save-justice

[6] These comments were made in a recent court case and are recorded as part of the official transcript. See http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2013/08/23/family-division-president-says-legal-aid-cuts-disconcerting/

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23132233

[8] https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-legal-aid

[9] http://legalaidchanges.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/nick-armstrong-costing-the-civil-legal-aid-propos...

October 5th: Join UK Uncut to Save Justice

Posted on Wed 28th Aug 2013, 7:59am

The government is about to launch its biggest attack yet on our rights, freedoms, and equality. They want to completely block access to justice for all but the rich, and they want to do it by the end of the year. Such an historic attack on people’s rights cannot, should not and will not go unchallenged. On 5th October, join UK Uncut as we take mass civil disobedience to show that we won’t take this assault on our equality before the law.




The government have forced through devastating cuts in every area from education to housing, welfare to healthcare, and now they want to stop us challenging their unfair and unnecessary decisions, and to stop us from resisting  injustice.

If these proposals go through they will stop people from disputing unfair evictions from their homes. They will stop babies from having their interests represented in family disputes. And they will stop the families of people killed in custody or detention from fighting for the truth.

This isn’t a cut that we’re talking about. The changes to legal aid won’t save even one penny, in fact they will cost money by causing havoc to the legal system. They are not motivated by a need to save money – these are ideological changes aimed at ruining justice for poor people and handing more contract cash to G4S and Serco.

So join the UK uncut collective in blocking roads outside of courts around the country.  In an act of direct action, we will stand against these dangerous changes that will destroy democracy and ordinary people’s lives.  We know that this will be disruptive. We know that it will stop the traffic. But we know that this kind of direct action works, and that we need to use it to save justice.

We already have the support of DPAC, Defend the Right to protest, Women Against Rape, Plane Stupid, Kent Refugee Help and BARAC UK.  But we need your help to make this huge. Get a group together, meet and come up with some ideas for your own act of creative civil disobedience. Start planning, find your nearest court, list your action on the
action section of our website and get in touch if we can help.

Blocking roads has an important and effective history in direct action in the UK, and given the government has ignored petitions and protests, civil disobedience is needed to defend our rights against this attack. By blocking roads outside of courts, we will be symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice. If you’re angry that the government is blocking justice for the poorest and most vulnerable, join us on the 5th.  Tell all your friends, family and colleagues. Shout about it, tweet it, facebook it.


See you on the streets!







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