Socialist Worker

Reports in brief

Issue No. 1948

Lawyers hit out at attack on legal aid

A packed rally of 500 criminal defence lawyers has called for a boycott of government plans to contract out legal aid work to the lowest bidder.

The “What Price Justice?” rally in Friends Meeting House, central London on Friday of last week heard that plans announced by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) threaten a cull of legal aid law firms.

Hundreds of jobs are at stake — but more importantly the plans would remove the right to a solicitor of your choice, with many of the best legal aid firms threatened.

The quality of representation will decline as firms will be rewarded for doing as little as possible on cases. There will be more miscarriages of justice.

The meeting unanimously backed a motion calling on the Law Society to advise its members not to bid for contracts. Speakers from the floor called for an active public campaign.

Matt Foot, criminal defence lawyer

Palestine protest targets Caterpillar

A motorcade protest of 60 cars and an open-topped bus drove past Caterpillar’s northern European financial headquarters in Hockley Heath, Solihull on Saturday.

Activists were demanding that the company stops supplying Israel with bulldozers that are used to demolish Palestinian homes.

A 200-strong rally heard speakers including representatives of a number of political parties, including Labour MP Clare Short and Salma Yaqoob from Respect, as well as members of the West Midlands Palestinian community.

Socialist gains in student elections

Suzie Wylie, a member of the Socialist Worker Student Society from Sheffield Hallam University, has been elected to the National Union of Students (NUS) executive.

The election results were published last week, following the NUS national conference a fortnight ago.

Suzie said, “This is a vote for an NUS that fights over issues like top-up fees, war in Iraq and campaigns such as Make Poverty History.

“Students are more political than they have been for generations. I hope to reflect that radicalisation on the executive.”

Swansea mother faces deportation

Ccampaigners in Swansea have been outraged at the threat to deport a mother and four of her children.

Four month old Daniel-Jack Cable, who is still being breast-fed, has been allowed to stay in Swansea — but his Brazilian mum Elaine and her four other children, aged three to 15, are being kicked out of the country because of a mix up over immigration papers.

Elaine and her husband Rory, a building worker from Swansea, are pleading with the immigration service to show some compassion.

Cardiff hospitals

Residents in Cardiff are continuing a long-running campaign to defend the city’s health services. They fear that Labour politicians and health managers are working with property developers to sell off some of the land on which Cardiff Royal Infirmary was built.

The hospital, which once provided the main accident and emergency facilities for the city, was downgraded by the Tories.

James Mapstone from the campaign group Crisis told Socialist Worker, “Our Labour MP Jon Owen Jones promised that he would save the hospital when he was running for election, but he has done nothing at all.

“We are left with the university hospital in Cardiff, which covers the whole of Wales, but there is no hospital in a central location for people in Cardiff.

“The proposed sell-off is a land grab. The only people benefiting are property developers.”

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Article information

Sat 23 Apr 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1948
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