Post by Patrick Torsney on Jun 10, 2011 12:54:32 GMT
A piece by Tim Iredale, Political editor, BBC Yorkshire & Lincolnshire. 10th June 2011
Link to original piece below at the end:
A disabled teenager from Grimsby, Andrew Green, fights to save legal aid
For decades the English legal system has prided itself on offering access to justice, whatever the size of your bank balance.
But will that always be the case?
Campaigners fighting plans to reduce the amount of taxpayers' money spent on legal aid, believe cuts to the programme could leave many families unable to claim compensation in cases where medical negligence has occurred.
Andrew Green from Grimsby was born in 1997 with cerebral palsy due to medical staff's delays in dealing with complications during childbirth.
As a result of Andrew qualifying for legal aid, it was possible to pay for an in-depth investigation using independent medical opinion, and eventually led to his family securing compensation to pay for care the teenager will need for the rest of his life.
Threat to justice?
Andrew is supporting the Sound Off for Justice Campaign, which is highlighting the cases lawyers believe will be removed from legal aid such as divorce, employment and negligence.
Andrew, 14, told me: "Basically two words is all you need to say. Not fair. I am just sad to see what will happen if they do make the cuts."
Legal Aid was established after the Second World War, but costs have spiralled in recent years and ministers say the current annual bill of more than £2 billion is too high.
The Government wants to reduce that amount by around £350 million a year in England and Wales by 2015.
The Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke, has suggested that financial help in civil cases should only be routinely available in situations where "life or liberty" was at stake.
Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly recently told the BBC Politics Show: "We currently spend more than any other country in the world on legal aid and after these proposals we will still spend more than any other country in the world on legal aid.
"This is a rationalisation. It's a redirection of resources towards those who most need it."
The Ministry of Justice recently carried out a consultation process and officials say no final decision has been made on the future of the legal aid programme.
The MoJ said it had received 5,000 responses to its consultation.
It so obvious but this is what Sound Off, Justice for All, the Law Society and everybody needs to be doing. Get the clients out there-they are the only ones who can tell the story as it should be, they are the ones the public and media will listen to. There are 750,000 clients who are losing out-we must be able to get more stories out there.