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Barristers sustain objection to Tory legal aid cuts with historic walkout

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Issue 2385
Barristers in Leeds, west Yorkshire, during a walkout on Monday of this week
Barristers in Leeds, west Yorkshire, during a walkout on Monday of this week (Pic: Steve Johnston)

Barristers walked out of courts in England and Wales on Monday morning of this week. Their half day strike was in protest at Tory attacks on legal aid.

Many morning sessions were cancelled as barristers and supporters joined together outside courts to protest against the cuts. Tory justice minister Chris Grayling has launched an assault on legal aid.

The government plans to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget. If the cuts go through, two thirds of law firms would disappear. 

And only people rich enough to hire their own lawyers would get to choose representation.

The Criminal Bar Association called the strike, which is the first since the bar’s origins in the 13th century.

It took the form of a coordinated training day.

The walkout was called after a mass meeting of barristers in London’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields in November last year. Hundreds voted unanimously to strike at the meeting. 

In the South West action culminated in a meeting at the Grand Hotel in Bristol. More than 50 angry barristers packed into it.

The Justice Alliance is a collection of 120 organisations committed to fighting the cuts to legal aid.

It called a protest in Westminster in support of the strike.

Criminal barrister Brian Richardson told Socialist Worker, “Many people were there because they had received legal aid. This included many who had suffered miscarriages of justice.

“We now need to escalate. We want more than a half day strike and we also want barristers and solicitors striking together.

“We need to start linking up the fight back over legal aid cuts to wider attacks on public services. 

“Our struggle is part of the fightback to defend public services as a whole.”


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