UK Liberty

Legal aid reforms harming trials

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on September 11, 2008

Further to previous articles, the Times reports that

Dozens of major trials, including rape and murder cases, are under threat because barristers are refusing to work for a minimum £91 an hour.

At least five big criminal prosecutions, including the Rhys Jones murder trial in Liverpool, have been hit by the boycott, The Times has learnt. Dozens more risk disruption and delays if the dispute over legal aid rates is not resolved swiftly.

Peter Lodder, QC, the new chairman of the 4,000-strong Criminal Bar Association, told The Times that judges could have to release defendants if the dispute is not settled soon.

Trials involving defendants held in custody can only be delayed up to 112 days between their committal and trial. Courts have the option of releasing defendants on bail but in serious cases there is a greater risk that they would abscond, he said. …

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