Socialist Worker

Protesters urge a fight to defend legal aid

by Annette Mackin
Issue No. 2364

Protesters gathered in Manchester to defend legal aid

Protesters gathered in Manchester to defend legal aid (Pic: Mark Krantz)


Hundreds of solicitors and campaigners surrounded the entrance to London’s Old Bailey yesterday, Tuesday, to celebrate the 64th anniversary of legal aid.

The Justice Alliance, a coalition of organisations set up to fight government attacks on legal aid, called the rally. Over a hundred people marched and rallied in Manchester on the same day.

Speakers in London stressed the importance of legal aid. Leroy Skeet described how prison wardens bullied him when he was in Dartmoor prison. He was able to fight back with legal aid.

Leroy attacked he government’s assault on legal aid saying, “This system shits on the poor all the time. It’s got to stop.”

Sally, the mother of a 15 year old rape victim, addressed the crowd. She said legal aid helped her uncover police blunders that let her daughter’s attacker walk free.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn read a statement from Billy Power, one of the Birmingham Six who were wrongly convicted of murder in 1975. Billy said he wouldn’t have been able to challenge his sentence without legal aid.

Raphael Rowe, who was wrongly convicted of murder in 1990, urged people to fight attacks on legal aid. “Please do all you can,” he said. “It will make a difference to another Raphael Rowe sitting in a cell.”

The crowd cheered Ian Lawrence, general secretary of the Napo union, when he spoke of the possibility of the union taking action over the summer against the attacks.

Solicitor Matt Foot closed the rally in London. “These attacks are about handing services to fat cat businessmen,” he said. “It’s one law for the rich and one law for the poor.

“We must take militant action. I think we can win.”


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News
Wed 31 Jul 2013, 15:27 BST
Issue No. 2364
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