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Lawyers hit out at legal reforms

Lawyers hit out at legal reforms

Hundreds of solicitors and barristers, many clad in their wigs and gowns, expressed their anger at Government plans to reform the legal system in a protest outside the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday.

Former solicitor and Labour’s justice spokesman Sadiq Khan said justice secretary Chris Grayling could destroy legal aid if he slashes the budget by £220m and the protesters were also complaining about the proposal to take away defendants’ rights to choose their own legal representative.

Also protesting among the 500-plus gathering were Blur drummer and practising solicitor Dave Rowntree, Lady Kennedy, legal campaigner Clive Stafford-Smith and one quarter of the Guildford Four, Gerry Conlon. Mr Khan said Mr Grayling was undermining the whole of the British justice system, while Lady Kennedy fears that the plans will lead to it becoming Americanised. She said any system that allows the state to choose who defends people in court would be a disgrace and could lead to miscarriages of justice.

Another campaigner, Jonathan Cooper QC, said everyone knows they will need the NHS but many people have no idea that they need legal aid until they are punished and brought before the courts.

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