Press release: UK Uncut to blockade roads in mass civil disobedience across UK

Posted on Sat 5th Oct 2013, 8:45am
For immediate release ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | @ukuncut

UK Uncut to blockade roads in mass civil disobedience across UK

Roadblock protests announced by anti-cuts group UK Uncut will happen across the country today in opposition to the government’s proposed changes to legal aid.

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’ [1]. 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 [2].

The protest group say their actions will be disruptive, but that they are a necessary and proportional response to the government's plans to block access to the courts for millions of ordinary people by making justice unaffordable.

Protestors will block roads in seven towns and cities across the UK: London, Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridge, Hull, Northampton and Norwich. In London, protesters will meet at the Old Bailey at 11.30am, and during the roadblock will put the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, on trial for ‘perverting the course of justice’. The protesters have organised bands, poetry and know your rights workshops to take place during the road block.

The government claims that changes will improve efficiency in the legal system and that the UK has one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world [3], but this claim has been challenged by research showing that the estimated £6m savings will be dwarfed by £30m in knock-on costs [4].

Anna Davidson, UK Uncut spokesperson said: “The government is making a political choice to cut legal aid to stop charities and individuals challenging their austerity agenda and its impacts in the courts. The government is lying when it says the legal aid changes are about saving money because their plans will cost more than they save.

“The government is making ordinary people pay the price of the economic crisis by stopping ordinary people accessing free legal advice and representation. Legal aid helps people keep their homes when social services is trying to evict them because of the bedroom tax, or sue the government over wrongful arrest or kettling, or disabled people access the services they need.”

Jack Genel, UK Uncut supporter said: “We are all here today to show our resistance and anger at these unnecessary legal aid plans. We know that we are causing inconvenience, but we are following in the footsteps of many, including the Suffragettes and civil rights groups, in creative civil disobedience to challenge the government’s plans that will mean that only the rich can afford legal representation and advice.”

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, like Google, pay their fair share instead of punishing people like me?”

The activists have enlisted the support of other direct action groups, including Disabled People Against the Cuts, Plane Stupid and Fuel Poverty Action [5, 6, 7].

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1 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/

2 bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23132233

3 consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communic…

4 http://legalaidchanges.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/nick-armstrong-costing-the-civil-legal-aid-proposals-1306242.pdf

5 dpac.uk.net

6 planestupid.com

7 fuelpovertyaction.org.uk

Press release: UK Uncut to blockade roads in mass civil disobedience across UK

Posted on Fri 4th Oct 2013, 8:13am
For immediate release Friday 04 October 2013
ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | @ukuncut

UK Uncut to blockade roads in mass civil disobedience across UK

Anti-cuts direct action group UK Uncut have announced that roadblock protests will happen across the country tomorrow in opposition to the government’s proposed changes to legal aid.

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’[1]. 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 [2].

The protest group say their actions will be disruptive but that the government intends to block access to the courts for millions of ordinary people by making justice unaffordable, and is a proportionate response.

Protestors will block roads in seven towns and cities across the UK: London, Manchester, Liverpool, Cambridge, Hull, Northampton and Norwich. In London, protestors will meet at the Old Bailey at 11.30am, and during the roadblock will put the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, on trial for ‘perverting the course of justice’. The protesters have organised bands, poetry and know your rights workshops to take place during the roadblock.

UK Uncut spokesperson Jim Thompson said: “The government’s proposals will destroy legal aid, blocking access to justice for all but the rich. We cannot allow this to happen. We know that our Roadblocks for Justice protests will be disruptive. We know that they will stop the traffic. But we also know that this kind of direct action works to make the government take notice. Rather than cutting free legal advice to prisoners, domestic violence victims and disabled people, they should be forcing Google to pay their fair share of tax.”

The government claims that changes will improve efficiency in the legal system and that the UK has one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world [3], but this claim has been challenged by research showing that the estimated £6m savings will be dwarfed by £30m in knock-on costs [4].

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, like Google, pay their fair share instead of punishing people like me?”

The activists have enlisted the support of other direct action groups, including Disabled People Against the Cuts, Plane Stupid and Fuel Poverty Action [5, 6, 7].

ENDS

Notes to editors:

[1] 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

[2] www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23132233

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

[4] http://legalaidchanges.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/nick-armstrong-costing-the-civil-legal-aid-proposals-1306242.pdf

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

[6] http://www.planestupid.com/ 

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





Press release: UK Uncut response to Justice Secretary’s speech at Conservative Party conference - Roadblock protests will happen this weekend

Posted on Mon 30th Sep 2013, 3:45pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ukuncut@gmail.com | 07415 063 231 | 07543 261 621 | @ukuncut

UK Uncut response to Justice Secretary’s speech at Conservative Party conference: Roadblock protests will happen this weekend 

Roadblock protests will go ahead this weekend, campaign group UK Uncut have confirmed, as the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, reiterated plans to slash legal aid in his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

UK Uncut spokesperson Jim Thompson said: “The government’s proposals will destroy legal aid, blocking access to justice for all but the rich. Changes announced at the beginning of September do not alter the government’s fundamental assault on the foundations of the democratic system through these proposals.”

He continued: “The government has refused to listen to the clear opposition to these changes, so it’s time to fight back. 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 [1, 2, 3]. The protest groups explain that their actions would be “symbolically highlighting the devastating effect the changes will have on access to justice”. [4]

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’ [5]. 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 [6].

The government claims that changes will improve efficiency in the legal system [7], but this claim has been challenged by research showing that the estimated £6m savings will be dwarfed by £30m in knock-on costs [8].

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:

[5] 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... 


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