Legal Aid U-Turn Means Defendants Will Be Able To Choose Their Solicitor

There is a great probability that legal aid defendants in criminal cases would not be able to choose their own lawyer for the future. If they want they can also go for a fixed-fee legal advice online.

This plan appeared as an opposition to the idea of the justice secretary to cut legal aid.

In the words of Chris Grayling money could be saved as young and inexperienced lawyers are hired for legal aid cases. This meant that taxpayers would not keep on paying for a “legal ‘Rolls-Royce’” to defend the people who receive legal aid.

Critics, on the other hand, claim that less experienced solicitors could harm justice seriously.

However, critics pointed out that this would leave legal aid defendants in their access to justice.

Last Thursday Tory MPs declared that the state should be banned to choose a defendant’s solicitor or barrister.

The Commons Justice Committee chairman received a letter from Mr. Grayling in which he claimed he was ready to reconsider part of his plans on legal aid only if these could help to reduce legal aid spending.

“The rationale for proposing this change was to give greater certainty of case volume for providers, making it easier and more predictable for them to organise their businesses,” he wrote.

“However, I have heard clearly from the Law Society and other respondents that they regard client choice as fundamental to the effective delivery of criminal legal aid.”

He added he would think carefully once more and define whether clients receiving criminal legal aid have to be allowed to choose a solicitor or not.

The Law Society and Bar Council were both pleasantly surprised by the news.


Disabled People Lose The fight for the Independent Living Fund

Five disabled people tried to appeal in court against the decision of the government to abolish the Independent Living Fund (ILF) but unfortunately they lost.

What they pretended for was that the consultation process had to be declared “unlawful”, which had to lead to the proposed axing of the £320m fund.

The government does not care that 19,000 people now receive money from ILF and plans to scrap it in 2015.

The average pay these people receive now is about £300 a week.

However, on Wednesday, the consultation process was announced lawful.

The fears of claimants were that disabled people would be trapped at home because of the fund’s closure. Unfortunately these people rely too much on this funding, as they are not always capable of signing an employment contract.

There was a hearing in March where no clear reasons were given so that the fund to be closed and the information given about the differences between the fund and local authority assessment and provision was not quite detailed.

Not long ago the Department for Work and Pensions stated that there had to be a single system administered by local authorities so that there was more control.

The ILF exists since 1988 but in 2010 the government announced it could no longer keep running the scheme outside the mainstream social care system.

Soon after this the fund was closed for new applicants.

Gabriel Pepper who is one of the five applicants has accused the government of imposing “appalling cuts” which were “a vicious attack on the disabled”.

Disabled people shared that they needed those money in order to hire personal assistants helping them with their everyday needs and to be able to go out and have normal social life.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said:

“Not getting the support to wash, dress and leave your home is unacceptable.”


Defamation Bill Threatened Again

After an amendment was tabled according to which two key sections of the defamation bill have to be removed, the reform of UK defamation law is again threatened.

Three years after the libel reform campaigners started working the defamation bill is about to become a law.

Sir Edward Garnier, a Tory MP and libel lawyer pleaded that two aspects of the bill have to be removed. If the bill stands as it is now, individuals or public authority would not have the chance to sue for libel over criticism, which means that journalists and bloggers would criticize local authorities with no fear. Is it as bad as it sounds by the way? The Legal Stop will not criticise any authority, as all we want to do is to provide you with the required legal documents. For that reason we launched the “request a document” service.

In 1993 after Derbyshire Council unsuccessfully attempted to sue the Times newspaper “the Derbyshire Principle”was established.

Due to another clause companies would have to prove what the financial damages of the company after this written criticism were, otherwise they would not have the right to bring libel claims against journalists and bloggers.

If the suggestion of Sir Edward is accepted both of these clauses will be removed from the bill.

People who have worked on the bill are against the amendment proposed by Sir Edward.

One of the men involved in the genesis of the bill, Lib Dem peer Lord Lester, shared his view that Derbyshire Principle clause has to be preserved by all means.

According to freedom of speech groups Sense and Science and English PEN financial loss has to be proved before companies are being allowed to sue for libel.

Last month when Lord Puttnam tabled an amendment to add a recommendation on press ethics to the bill, the government would have almost thrown out the entire bill.

This amendment, however, was removed.


Confession of an Ex-police Officer on selling information

The newspaper Sun published detailed information about the mother of the footballer John Terry which information was provided by a former Surrey police officer who admitted having sold it.

The 40 years old Tierney pleaded guilty on the two offenses of misconduct.

Three other people pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office. These were prison worker Richard Trunkfield, another ex-policeman and a public official.

The decision of the court was that Tierney and Trunkfield were involved into corrupt payments so they were charged.

The place where the operation is being run was alongside Scotland Yard’s Operation Weeting.

Alan Tierney admitted he had sold information not only about Terry’s mother and the fact she had been cautioned for shoplifting but also Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood and the case when he was cautioned for assault after an incident that happened to the girlfriend he then used to be with.

In his confessions could be heard the periods between 26 March and 3 April 2009, and between 2-7 December 2009 as periods of misconduct.

The former police officer was released on bail and his final sentence will be passed on 27 March. He was warned by Mr. Justice Fulford that “all options remain open”.

Mr. Tierney appears to be the second convicted under Operation Elveden as the first one was

ex-counter-terrorism detective April Casburn.

A former prison operational support officer at HMP Woodhill admitted he was paid £3,350 to give information about a high-profile prisoner.

He pleaded guilty to misconduct in a public office but he will be sentenced at a later date.

There are legal reasons which do not allow the spread of information on the names of the second police officer and the public official.

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