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Monday Message 10.06.13

CBA Chairman’s Update: Michael Turner QC

Personal Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07951157030
The Monday Message 10th June 2013


  • Do Right Fear No One; Chairman’s Comment.
  • MOJ spending for 2012: The Scandal deepens and we bring it to MP’s attention.
  • A Prime Example of How the System Now Lets Down its   Victims and how an in house mentality destroys our ethics.
  • CPS try and thwart the democratic process unlawfully
  • Can Mr Grayling avoid the democratic process for much longer?
  • Mr Grayling’s ever more desperate attempt to mislead.
  • Eddie Stobart’s seeks to prove their worth in the publically funded legal market.
  • Other Consultation Responses
  • Press and the Protests
  • Your’s and others letters in the press
  • Yet more in the Press
  • The NOW show hits the nail on the head


1.        Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment.

On Tuesday I give evidence before the Justice Select Committee. I will be pulling no punches. You will see from the stories which appear this week the plot is beginning to thicken. The Consultation produced 13,000 responses which I suspect must be some kind of record. I do not know whether Eddie Stobart’s put in a response or is sufficiently confident in the lobbying process not to bother. It will be interesting to see whether Mr Grayling will push the time table for announcing the result of the consultation process back a year or two. On the current advertised timetable one thing is certain, no Governmental Department is in a position to digest that number of responses in the time available. The timing of any announcement will be a very a good indicator as to whether this consultation process is a sham or not. Meanwhile the protests which coincided with the end of the consultation process were terrific and we have included much of the coverage below. Well done to everyone who organised them and took part.
Crimeline is in the process of collating all the responses which can be found HERE. If you haven’t sent in your response, we’d encourage you to do so.

2.       MOJ spending for 2012: The Scandal Deepens

Last week we published the MOJ spending for 2012 courtesy of Inside Times HERE
We give you the link again because further investigation begins to reveal what a scandal awaits.
Last week I discovered that a man by the name of David Griffiths was in charge of MOJ procurement for the £5 – £20 billion project to privatise the probation service. He has now left the MOJ and within 6 months has been taken on by G4S as guess what? Head of Probation. Then you start to scratch at the surface of these contracts and you realise how wildly over-priced they are. I give you but 2 examples. Under the contract for the provision of tags the contract unit price is £1000. The same unit in the USA is £100. The contract price for the delivery of a prisoner to and from court is £800 per delivery. Is it therefore any wonder that the MOJ has to find money from elsewhere? The public loses twice over. They receive no value under the contract which in turn causes the cut, resulting in the loss of the service.
It is not only the MOJ where this spiral of mismanagement or worse is apparent we suspect. Vodafone, who realised it’s figures on Friday paid no corporation tax last year (making for a zero tax bill for two years running) and yet distributed £4.8 bn in cash dividends to it’s shareholders. Surely it is time to ensure that no politician or civil servant is allowed to accept employment with any organisation where they have been in a position to influence any decision to the possible benefit of any company?
On your behalves I wrote to every MP to alert them to the realities of Government on Friday:
Friday 7th June 2013
Dear Member of Parliament,
Re: Current PCT proposals
I write to you as Chairman of the Criminal Bar of England and Wales. I do so as the Minister for Justice, Mr Grayling has refused to see or even speak with me and in consequence is not the recipient of my ideas for reform.
Mr Grayling claims that the UK legal aid bill is “far more than in any other comparable or developed nation”. This is simple not the case as statistics produced by the National Audit Office proved last year. Please see graph HERE.
He has claimed in the press that a spending cut of £220 million pounds in the Legal Aid budget is required to shore up the National Health Service budget. As you all must be aware that sum of money would not support the National Health Service for more than a few hours.
The tragedy of these proposals, which will damage the English legal system and undermine our independent judiciary, is that they are fiscally entirely unnecessary.
Currently, the waste within the system caused by delay costs the tax payer in the region of £100 million. The CPS currently cost the country £100 million more than when they had no employed advocates. Cutting out the waste in the system will provide you with the savings required. However, the story is worse still. Three simple measures would produce the entirety of an annual legal budget and more.
·        A compulsory insurance scheme for the banking industry to defray the cost of fraud prosecutions.
·        Use of restrained assets as a set off against legal aid.
·        Returning the administration of the Magistrates courts to the Magistrates  Association and the magistrates themselves as was the position before 2005
These three measures alone would produce savings of over £2 billion annually
There are smaller, yet significant measures which could reduce costs still further:
·        Closing the Criminal Defence Service.
·        Returning the responsibility of prosecuting shop lifting cases to the retail trade.
·        Placing the cost and responsibility of prosecuting copyright infringements on the industry as opposed to the Trading and Standards Office.
The final measure which would save many £millions, possibly £billions more, would be to re-examine the procurement methods of the MOJ altogether. The history of negotiating contracts with the private sector is astonishing. I probably do not have to rehearse the Capita disaster. However the contracts for electronic tagging translate to a cost per tag of £1000 unit. 10 times more than in the USA. The cost of delivering a prisoner to court translates to £800 per delivery. Both these costs are to be compared with the daily cost of solicitor, which is £500. Even more troubling is why such disadvantageous contracts were negotiated in the first place. David Griffith’s who recently was responsible for MOJ procurement in respect of probation services, has left the department and within 6 months is working as head of probation services for G4S. The public can not have confidence in such a procurement exercise, nor should they.
In short there are huge savings which can be made elsewhere and within the MoJ itself. These the Ministry chooses to overlook, preferring to protect its vested interests at the expense of frontline services, something not entirely unknown in Whitehall.
I have a real interest in designing a system which saves money and yet delivers a proper service. If we were given the opportunity to explain these ideas you would find yourselves in a far stronger position to deliver the savings you seek and a good deal more.
Yours sincerely
Michael Turner QC
Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association
3.       A Prime Example of How the System Now Lets Down its Victims and how an in house mentality destroys our ethics

We have been following this trial ever since the first trial collapsed. The retrial came to an end last week resulting in the rightful conviction for murder of a defendant by the name of Mann. One of my members kindly took a note of the trial judge’s comments as to the debacle of the first trial. His comments tell the story
This is what he had to say:
HHJ Griffith Jones
“1. I have seen the victim impact statements – I can’t conceive of anything more terrible than to outlive your child – Mr and Mrs Griffiths have had to endure the terrible shock of the circumstances – Daniel O’Connor has had to be involved in the very case. He gave evidence in his own mother’s murder trial.
2. My sympathies go to the close family and close friends of Claire O’Connor – she was quite obviously a popular and outgoing character. 
3. Another topic caused me great concern – this case was previously the subject of a trial resulting in a discharged jury – the prosecution were represented by someone, I shan’t name him, but he was totally inadequate. I appreciate that in these days where public money is short there is an understandable imperative to save money. But instead of two advocates being instructed where one at least has senior standing and experience, the prosecution deployed a single advocate who was patently out of his depth. He opened the law – something which is not welcome, but it was all the more unwelcome because he opened it wrongly – he referred to the old law (relating to diminished responsibility). He was reminded by me, he appeared to understand what I was saying but opened it wrongly again.
4. He mismanaged the case, particularly in respect of the witnesses (who came to Court only to waste their time). He tried to read the pathologist’s evidence, he should have never tried to read it.
5. Worse than that, as he sought to read it he didn’t understand what he was reading – it is a fundamental discourtesy to the jury. Worse than that, when I asked him what the terms meant it became plain to me that he was making guesses – it was a terrible display by an advocate in any case, let alone a case as serious as murder.
6. He then proceeded to fall out with other members of the prosecution team – I am not saying it is necessarily appropriate to instruct an independent member of the bar, but where he falls out with the prosecution, it leaves the court in a very difficult position – he made an application to withdraw for reasons of professional embarrassment. He said he had fallen out with the ruling lawyer regarding the calling of a witness.
7. Had I acceded, what would have happened? If he left what was the Court to do – eventually he withdrew the application. It left me concerned about what happens when there is a fall-out – either the reviewing lawyer or the advocate must have authority. When he continued it was clear to me that he realised that he was not competent (to do the job).
8. I then arrived on the following Monday to find that he was not at court – someone else who was totally unconnected to the case turned up to tell me he was ill – I have never had any sort of medical report – a letter from him – I have never had an explanation as to what happened – I was then forced to discharge the jury, with people like Daniel O’Connor forced to await a retrial (some 6 months later).”
9. It is not just about the money but the terrible cost to the family – this has been a terrible attempt to make an economy, an economy that proves to be a false economy. It is a disgrace.
10. I ask for a transcript of what I have said to be sent to the DPP and Harry Ireland. Fortunately the situation was retrieved because a proper advocate was eventually instructed. 
11. The reason I have raised it publicly is that I think the public at large and in particular those people in the public gallery should understand what is going on and that I do take the matter very seriously indeed. In Coventry Crown Court where the public is more visible I witnessed tremendous discomfort from the members of the public gallery.”
The “proper advocate” who rescued the case for the Crown was none other than our own Mark Wall QC (Leader of the Midland Circuit)
It is a prime example of this Government exhibiting complete contempt for the victims of crime.  You wait and see the calibre of the prosecution team put out to prosecute the alleged killers of Drummer Lee Rigby. The publicity given to the case will ensure a full treasury counsel team. What then is the difference between the poor family of Drummer Lee Rigby and the parents and son of Claire O’Connor (the victim in the Mann trial)? In any decent democracy there should be none. No self-respecting society should countenance an inequality of arms as between those of their citizens who have been the victims of such tragedy and yet it is sanctioned on a daily basis. Quite apart from the sheer iniquity of it, as this case proves, it is a policy which costs the tax payer a good deal more.
It is not that CPS in house advocates are incompetent far from it. This case provides yet another example of how the independence of the advocate is threatened by being taken in house. Section 43 of the Access to Justice Act preserves the overriding duty of the advocate to act with independence. We have a duty only to accept cases within our knowledge and experience. A rule adhered to at the independent Bar. Yet the reality is that that independence disappears when the advocate is taken in house, either because the contract of employment conflicts with it or the employed advocate is too scared of their position to enforce it. Our next story suggests which of those explanations is most likely.
We have a duty in the public interest to stop this madness and we will not shirk it.

4.       CPS try and thwart the democratic process unlawfully
It was rumoured that the CPS had issued an e-mail threatening its staff with disciplinary action if they complained to their MPs about the cuts. Now the Sunday People has got hold of a copy HERE. According to the Sunday People the CPS do not deny it; rather a CPS spokeswoman says it was sent by the Human Resources Department without Kier Stammer’s sanction. If that is accurate the CPS is out of control and its civil servants are doing what civil servants do not traditionally do i.e. “Do nothing unless you have permission in triplicate to do it”.  First a “tick and star” policy in one area is instituted without consulting the boss and now the Human Resources department takes it upon itself to unlawfully threaten the staff with disciplinary action if they take up their democratic right to complain about cuts that threaten their jobs and the public interest. What were the competencies set for joining the Human Resources Department of the CPS one wonders?

5.       Can Mr Grayling avoid the democratic process for much   longer?
Last week not at my request, but of his own motion, Dave Anderson, Member of Parliament for Blaydon, tabled this question in Parliament. The answer will be an interesting one.
Ordinary Written question to: Justice Secretary for answer on 11 Jun 2013 12:00 AM. Will the Justice Secretary meet with the Chairman of the Criminal Bar association to discuss proposals to reform the Legal Aid system and will he make a statement.

6.       Mr Grayling’s ever more desperate attempts to mislead
We discovered last week that Mr Grayling had written to his own party members in April this year seeking to justify his stance. This is what he told them:-
Subject: Dear Colleague from Chris Grayling – Changes to legal Aid
To: <(none)>
Date: Friday, 19/04/2013 11:13 AM
Dear colleague
I wanted to write to you to enclose a couple of pieces of information about our planned changes to criminal legal aid
The key reason for the changes is that my Department, like most others, faces big financial challenges over the next few years. We inherited a legal aid system that cost more than two billion pounds a year, far more than in any other comparable or developed nation. In France, for example, the total cost is around four hundred million pounds, and even in countries like Canada and Australia which have very similar systems to our own, the cost is many times lower than in the UK.
Ken Clarke made big changes to the provision of civil legal aid, and brought down the cost significantly. But I will have to do the same to criminal legal aid, which costs more than a billion pounds a year, if I am to meet financial challenges.
As you know, my overall strategy is to sharpen up our narrative on criminal justice ahead of the election, and to give our supporters confidence that we are on their side when it comes to crime. I also intend to improve the way we rehabilitate offenders, to aim to break the cycle of reoffending that boosts crime levels in this country significantly.
I am also seeking to change the way we operate many parts of the current system so we can deliver the services we need but at a much lower cost. The criminal legal aid proposals, which are currently open for consultation, form part of that.
The changes involve putting the provision of legal aid services from the solicitors’ profession onto a competitive basis, to ensure we get the best value we can for the money we spend. We will ensure that we maintain good quality legal support for our courts, but we need to challenge the profession to do things differently. There is scope for delivering significant efficiencies in respect of litigation, which our proposals are designed to incentivise.
But I have taken steps to recognise the character of the bar. We are not proposing to introduce competitive tendering for the work the bar does in crown courts and above. This is an option we have had to seriously consider, but my judgement is that it would undermine the nature of the work done by barristers and I do not want to do that.
We have taken some tough decisions on barristers’ fees, particularly at the top end of the income scale. But I have also recognised the fact that many junior barristers are not excessively paid, and our proposals should actually mean a small pay rise for them if they continue to do the same mix of cases. This would be the first such increase for many years.
During the consultation process, we will undoubtedly face strong opposition from many in the profession. But I wanted you to understand where a lot of the pressure for that opposition is coming from. The main opponent of our plans is Michael Turner QC, who chairs the Criminal Bar Association. In order to give you a better sense of the perspectives he brings to the debate, I have attached below a copy of an article he wrote for the Daily Mirror last year. I think it speaks for itself.
There is no easy way of taking tough financial decisions, but some of them are essential if we are to bring down costs and deal with the deficit.
Best wishes

As you will discern form the contents Mr Grayling appears quite prepared to dissemble to his own party in order to get their support.
Where to start?
a)     Britain has the most expensive legal aid system?
No it does not as figures produced by the National Audit Office last year demonstrate – HERE

b)    “Give our supporters confidence we are on their side when it comes to crime”
If he means “give our supporters false confidence we are on their side when it comes to crime” that would be an accurate statement. If he means that they are truly on their side when it comes to crime that can not possible be accurate, as the story of the Mann trial clearly demonstrates.
c)     “ The main opponent of our plans is Michael Turner QC…” etc
There were 13,000 responses to the consultation and not a single one in favour. Just to remind you all of what I was saying in the Mirror in October last year, which Mr Grayling tells his members “ speaks for itself” HERE it is again
If Mr Grayling bothers to read the 13,000 responses he will discover that I am very far from being a lone voice.
But last week, as the consultation came to an end Mr Grayling was beginning to appear desperate. In light of the clearest opposition to his plans he fired off his two last shots in an attempt to convince the public of his foolishness.
Firstly, he stated in the Evening Standard HERE that the £220 m he sought to cut from the Legal Aid Budget was necessary to shore up the NHS. Pull the other one Mr Grayling; we all know that kind of drop in the ocean would keep the NHS alive for less than a day.
Presumably, knowing that particular nonsense would be seen through he ran to his trusted organs of the Sun and the Mail to release the fat cat figures. I do not propose to re-publish them as they as always were inaccurate and highly misleading.
His attempts seem to be unravelling. The Mail’s sister paper, Mail on Sunday ran a story that was highly critical of Grayling’s plan. It includes this line “Meanwhile an analysis by The Mail on Sunday reveals that in its attempt to ‘spin’ support for the changes, the Ministry of Justice has been making claims about ‘fatcat’ legal aid lawyers which are highly misleading.” Read the full article HERE.
Mr Grayling might want to have a word with his boss and a read of this speech that Mr Cameron made in 2011. He talks about how vital choice is in public service and how his Government wants to move away from telling them that the Government knows best.

7.       Eddie Stobart’s seeks to prove their worth in the       publically funded legal market.
Eddie Stobart’s ever seeking to show its value in the legal aid market released Eddie Stobart’s Trucking Tunes
Shortly to be followed no doubt by an Eddie Stobart compendium of tunes to while away the time whilst serving you sentence.

8.       Other Consultation Responses
It is vital that we collate as many of the responses to the consultation so that we can publish them centrally and collate for when the MOJ try and pretend the responses said everyone loved their plans. The CBA will do this job so please can you make sure you send a copy of your Consultation response to the excellent Andrew Keogh of Crimeline (above) who have kindly agreed to collate them.
Meanwhile I publish a few comments by way of demonstration that we are far from a lone voice.
Judges speak out against the Plans – The Guardian 07.06.13
Liberty speaks sense as always – East London Lines
Treasury Counsel speak out against the plans – 06.06.13
Norfolk PCC speaks out against the Plans
… as does the Bristol PCC.

9.       Press Coverage of the Protests
Liverpool lawyers in Crown Court protest at plans to change Legal Aid – Liverpool Echo – 04.06.13
Lawyers block road outside Ministry of Justice in protest against legal aid cuts – The Guardian – 04.06.13
Protesters condemn legal aid cuts – Express and Star – 04.06.13
Protest at Winchester Crown Court over changes to legal aid – Hampshire Chronicle – 05.06.13

10.     Yours and others letters in the press
Chris Henley in the FT
Withdrawal of legal aid from judicial reviews – The Times 
Judges attack Grayling’s legal aid shake-up – The Times
11.     Yet more in the Press

Privatising Courts- The Times
Legal aid cuts ‘will lead to convictions of innocent’ – The Independent – Paul Peachy

Rebecca Herbert wrote a great letter in Today’s Mail, unfortunately we cannot provide the link. 

12.     The NOW show hits the nail on the head
Also, for the second week in a row, the Now Show on Radio 4 covered legal aid cuts –required listening – . When the public find out what is being planned, they are against it, and comedy is a great way of getting this across.

Do Right, Fear No One
Michael (Bloody) Turner QC

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