Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Justice set to come with a price tag

Justice set to come with a price tag

Our country has an international reputation as being a fair and just land. ‘Land of hope and glory, Mother of the free’, may be sang with patriotic fervor at the proms, but newly proposed legislation concerning legal aid shall place a heavy price on the freedom of many innocent people. For eight hundred years of pride in being a fair society, where no price is placed on justice, looks set to go out of the window at the hands of Cameron’s ‘millionaires row’ coalition cabinet of Tories and Liberal Democrats.

This injustice shall come about through the Coalition’s proposed cuts to the legal aid system. This will mean literally a large section of the population being denied access to legal aid, and therefore only allowing justice for those that can afford to pay for it. Just as the Employers Charter shall threaten the rights of large numbers of workers, so shall the proposed reform of legal aid affect the liberties of ordinary people. This is yet another step along the path which leads back to the dark Dickensian ages.

As National Liberals, we feel justice should be the fundamental right of every citizen. The proposed legislation will see ordinary folk on low incomes forced to defend themselves in court, finding themselves up against expensive lawyers who will twist every word and detail to win the case for their affluent clients or the establishment. Medical negligence, education and employment are all areas likely to be hit by these discriminatory and unjust reforms.

We need to ask questions. How many ordinary innocent people will be ground down by the whole process? How many injustices will occur? How many lives will be ruined through the stress of people being coerced into represent themselves as they cannot afford professional representation?

This whole issue is not just about reform of the legal aid system. It is about a purge on the civil liberties of individuals and erosion of our long established rights. It is further evidence of the massive sell out of real liberal values by the Liberal Democrat party. Both Cameron and Clegg need reminding, our justice system should be for everyone and not just those who are wealthy enough or in positions to have professional legal advice at their disposal.

Rick Heyse

National Liberal Party (South West England)

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