England: Criminal barristers call out Raab over legal aid ‘lies’
The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) in England and Wales has accused justice secretary Dominic Raab of lies against the backdrop of a looming crisis in the criminal courts.
In an article for The Times yesterday, Mr Raab claimed that the CBA is “demanding that I ignore the public law principles that apply to our approach to reform” and that criminal legal aid reform cannot be rushed.
The CBA responded in a Twitter thread: “We have not asked the government to infringe any public law principles. This is a lie.”
The representative body for the criminal bar said it had merely “asked for a response to a report MoJ commissioned, and have had since the end of November” – which Mr Raab has said he will not deliver until the end of March.
“We have been patient, and engaged, for nearly four years,” the CBA said. “Any suggestion to the contrary is a lie.”
Mr Raab also claimed that his government had “boosted” the pay of criminal law practitioners by £74 million over the past four years, “the highest increase in two decades”.
The CBA said: “Pay has not been boosted. This is a lie. There has been a real terms reduction for 25 years.”
Finally, the CBA rejected Mr Raab’s claim that it was proposing “strike action”. It said: “We are not proposing strike action. This is a lie. We propose withdrawing labour on cases ‘returned to us’ when counsel is no longer available due to work commitments, i.e where our hardworking and outstanding value for the taxpayer props up a system which only functions with us.”