What do you call a Justice Secretary who wants to ensure that access to the justice system is restricted to the fewest people possible – only, in fact, those who can afford it?
What do you call a Justice Secretary who is overseeing plans to ensure that legal aid in civil cases is cut by £350 billion, meaning people who need qualified advice on social welfare debt, employment, family problems, clinical negligence, divorce and housing problems will not get it? Those people may have to pursue the cases on their own behalf, clogging up the civil justice system, perhaps for years to come.
What do you call a man who, as Employment Minister, presided over a scheme of ‘Mandatory Work Activity’ for the unemployed that was worse than useless at getting them into employment but made a great deal of money for the useless ‘Work Placement Provider’ companies to whom he funnelled government money like there was no tomorrow?
You call him Chris Grayling, that’s what.
This walking, talking blight on common sense is now talking about cutting legal aid in criminal cases, eyeing up £1 billion that is currently spent on it.
He wants to sell off guilty defendants’ cars to pay their legal costs. What does he think that’s going to do? Well, let’s put it in his own language. If cutting people’s benefits is likely to “encourage” them into work, taking away a thief’s car is likely to “encourage” him to steal another. His policies will increase crime.
And he wants to introduce price competition into criminal legal aid, ensuring that the cheapest lawyers – not the best – get the work.
He calls it “working to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system as a whole, to move towards swifter resolution of cases before the courts”.
But Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger has said the cuts already going ahead are likely to restrict access to justice. That’s not efficiency.
And Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has spoken of similar fears that cutting legal aid might undermine the rule of law, with people resorting to violence.
The bar council has warned that the introduction of price competition is “a blunt instrument” assuring “none of the safeguards and qualities which we must expect from our justice system”.
And, as Lord Bach has pointed out, there will be no savings in the end, as the state “will eventually have to pick up the pieces when things get much worse than they need to”.
Sadly, Mr Grayling – who has no legal grounding whatsoever – will ignore this sensible advice. One can only conclude that he wants to increase criminality.
This blog has already discussed the possibility that Defence Secretary Philip Hammond wants to use the armed forces to quell any civil disturbances in the UK. Is Grayling trying to engineer such disturbances deliberately?
You read it here first.