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Monday Message 22.06.13

CBA Chairman’s Update:
Michael Turner QC

Personal Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07951157030
The Monday Message 22nd June 2013


1.       Do Right Fear No One; Chairman’s Comment.
2.       Backbenchers force a debate on 27th June.
3.       Election for Vice-Chair
4.       Andrew Lansley apologises to the House of Commons as Mr Grayling continues digging a hole
          for himself

5.       Oh Dear Mr Grayling: Even the Society of Conservative Lawyers thinks PCT and removal of
          Client Choice is bonkers

6.       Oh Dear again- David Davis says no to PCT
7.       The Attorney General distances himself from the impending train crash
8.       Proposed Mass Lobby of Parliament (including Find your MP) again
9.       Are the SRS a capable regulator? They announce a fast track scheme for all
          unsuitable suppliers

10.     Sir Alan Beith gets the point
11.     Lord Neuberger rightly speaks out in the public interest
12.     The Attorney General wriggles about the hypocrisy of the Government instructing who it
          wants whilst proposing to deny its citizens the same

13.     The Scandal of the Tagging Contract
14.     Our own Ed Henry rescues Koo Stark and then goes to war
15.     Knowledge is power: MOJ answers to FOIs
16.     How low can they sink? Police seek to smear the Lawrence’s
15.     Our roving reporters cover Legal Aid Question Time
16.     Winner of The Law Society essay competition
17.     Some think to make you smile from somewhere on the Western Circuit
18.     Press and Blogs

1.       Do Right Fear No One: Chairman’s Comment
I am in upbeat mood again this week. We have got our first debate on Transforming Legal Aid in Parliament, Andrew Lansley has had to apologise for misleading the House in respect of Mr Grayling’s refusal to meet me and as you will discover there are some surprising politicians who have recently spoken out against these ridiculous proposals. The community of spirit and unity between the professions continues to grow ever stronger as do their efforts to get the message across on behalf of both professions, as the Mass Lobby demonstrates. We continue to enjoy extraordinary support from the Civil branch of the profession, I am particularly grateful to Dinah Rose QC, and Tom De La Mere QC of Blackstone Chambers and John Lofthouse of 2 Kings Bench Walk together with Baker McKenzie. If any of you think those reliant on private work are sitting by whilst we suffer, think again. These guys and girls have worked and continue to work pro bono and ceaselessly to ensure the public are protected. Meanwhile, Lord Neuberger continues to stand up for the public interest and we have strong nominations for vice-chair. I spoke to a meeting of the IBC (Institute of Barristers Clerks on Wednesday) and will go to Manchester this Wednesday to do the same. They are fully on board and I honestly believe when we come to take united action it will be just that. The Press have tired of the ‘fat cat’ spin which has been exposed as just that and are becoming much more interested in the self interest of MOJ procurement, which continues to throw good money after bad. There is a very different ‘fat cat’ story beginning to emerge and I believe that Mr Grayling’s cynical efforts to mislead the public in respect of the figures has unleashed a hornets nest. Sir Alan Beith has got the point and fully recognises the problems on the horizon.
2.        Backbenchers force a debate on 27th June
The Backbench Business Committee announced a legal aid debate for 27th June.
This debate is without prejudice to the debate being pressed for via the e-petition as this enquiry by our friend Mr Jeyes makes plain.
Dear Mr Jeyes,
Thank you for your message.
I can confirm that the allocation of time by the Backbench Business Committee for a debate on legal aid reform on 27 June is without prejudice to any future application for a further debate when the 100,000 signature mark on the petition has been passed and when the Government’s consultation response has been issued.
As you will probably know, it is necessary for an MP to make a formal application to the Committee for a debate on a petition. 
One constraint is that the House has not yet renewed the temporary standing order allowing the Committee to allocate time for debates on petitions in Westminster Hall on Mondays (this lapsed at the end of the last Session in April). We hope that a motion will go before the House shortly to enable this. 
With best wishes
Dr Robin James
Clerk, Backbench Business Committee
Table Office
House of Commons
The e petition currently stands at 95,425. Let’s have a final push.  Less than a further 5000 will do the trick.
Pass this link around –
3.       Elections for Vice-Chair
Nominations closed on Friday. The candidates in alphabetical order are as follows:
Tony Cross QC
Jeremy Dein QC
David Howker QC
Simon Spence QC
No nem con election this. It shows the strength of the Association when we have a contest between four candidates of genuine merit.
Each candidate will be asked to submit a “manifesto” piece of no more than 750 words for publication in the MM of 1st July. They will also be given the option of submitting a 3 minute video piece for publication one week later.
Voting will open on Monday 1st July and close on Monday 15th July at 5.30 pm.
You will have the option of voting electronically or down loading a written ballot paper for paper submission.
Electronic voting has caused problems in the past, because our members have a habit of forgetting their user name and password, required to access the members area of the website. In consequence, tomorrow you will receive a personal email from Aaron, reminding you of your CBA user name together with instructions as to how to gain access if you have forgotten your password.
You have seen what can be achieved with energy, commitment and a passion to protect the public interest. It is in your hands who you choose to carry on that fight so please use your vote. There can be no complaining if you do not.
4.        Andrew Lansley Corrects the position to the House of Commons as Grayling continues digging a hole for himself
Mr Lansley was forced to apologise for inadvertently misleading the House in respect of the fact that Mr Grayling had met me.
This is the letter I received HERE
This is the letter Valerie Vaz MP received HERE
This is what he said in the House.
Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to seek your guidance on a letter that the Leader of the House sent to me last night in relation to an answer that he gave me in the House last week. I would like to bring it to the attention of the House, and perhaps I could have your guidance on this. I forwarded a copy of the letter to you this morning. It was about a response to a question on legal aid.
Mr Speaker: I am bound to say that that does not sound like a point of order. [Interruption.] The Leader of the House will probably know the contents of the letter of which I have not yet had sight. It may have been sent to me, but I have not yet seen it.
The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Andrew Lansley): Further to that point of order, I am grateful for the opportunity to offer a clarification. As the hon. Lady knows, at last week’s business questions, she asked me whether Justice Ministers had met the Criminal Bar Association. I recalled the occasion; I was sitting on the Bench with Justice Ministers on 21 May and I heard them respond to questions, listing the stakeholders that they met. I confess that I mistakenly thought that the Criminal Bar Association was in that long list of stakeholders, but it was not. That was on 21 May, as I say, but my noble Friend Lord McNally met the Criminal Bar Association on 30 May.
20 Jun 2013 : Column 1069
Mr Speaker: Well, whether that answer spawns general contentment I do not know, but it does seem to me to deal with the matter for the time being. I will of course cast my eye over the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) as soon as I have the opportunity, but I do not think it need detain us from moving on to debate the important issue of provision for carers, which is the first of this afternoon’s debates selected by the Backbench Business Committee.
This is what happened on the 21st May when Andrew Lansley was listening to Chris Grayling
Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): What recent representations he has received on the reform of legal aid; and if he will make a statement. [156188]
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): My ministerial team and I have met with a number of stakeholders since the launch of our consultation on legal aid reform. Among others, I have met the chair of the Bar Council, the president of the Law Society, members of the senior judiciary, the circuit leaders and a number of solicitors representing Law Society members.
Miss McIntosh: I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have heard the same concerns that I have about restricted access to justice. Having started out as a young advocate a number of years ago, may I say that there is real concern that there will be less access to the profession, particularly for young barristers, with lower fees while they are trying to pay off their student loans?
Chris Grayling: We have taken care with these proposals to put together a package based on our statistical analysis which we think will protect incomes at the lower end of the Bar particularly. It is my intention that where we have to impose changes on the profession, they come through either the reorganisation of businesses or income changes at the top end of the income scale.
Karl Turner (Kingston upon Hull East) (Lab): The Justice Secretary knows full well that his plans for price competitive tendering in criminal legal aid are completely opposed by the profession. They are unworkable. Will he now sit down with the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association and discuss a way forward out of this mess?
Chris Grayling: As the hon. Gentleman will know, the principle of price competitive tendering was first proposed in a report commissioned by the last Government eight years ago. We have looked carefully at the best way in which we can deliver better value in our legal aid system, which we have to do to meet financial targets. We will do so in a way that protects the interests of the justice system, but no change is simply not an option.
Having heard the “list of stakeholders” the next thing he heard was Karl Turner asking Chris Grayling if he would sit down with the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association
Let us hope that Mr Grayling will be forced to explain his avoidance tactics in the debate of the 27th June.
5.       Oh Dear Mr Grayling: Even the Society of Conservative Lawyers thinks PCT and removal of Client Choice is bonkers
Link below to the response to the consultation by the Association of Conservative Lawyers. Whilst something of a curates egg in that it supports some of Mr Grayling’s completely unlawful proposals such as the Residency Test,  like everyone else they too say NO to PCT.
The response to the consultation by the Association of Conservative Lawyers
Will Mr Grayling not speak to them either?
6.       Oh Dear again- David Davis says no to PCT
I set out an extract from a letter sent to a David Davis constituent expressing his views.
To bring you up to speed, if you look on the Parliamentary website you will see that next Thursday there is a backbench debate on the whole question of these proposed legal aid reforms and I am one of the sponsors of this debate.  The primary sponsor is Sarah Teather MP.  I have spend some time speaking to a variety of lawyers about the issue, most recently (yesterday), Dinah Rose QC.
In a nutshell, my view is this.  There is a clear need for reform of legal aid in order to reduce its costs, which are extraordinarily high in this country.  However, I am not persuaded that this is the right way to do it.  I am not remotely impressed by the idea of reducing the number of companies, or indeed replacing open competition with a state quality assessment, or indeed by the proposals to effectively remove much government action from judicial review.  I also suspect that this whole proposal which the government is suggesting will be introduced by secondary legislation will be struck down by judicial review.
If I get called to speak next week, which seems likely, you will hear me elaborate more extensively on these points.”
7.       The Attorney General distances himself from the impending train crash
Dominic Grieve QC is an honourable man given his principled opposition to PCT when it showed up last time. He is certainly distancing himself in this letter but has he gone far enough?
The good baroness Sctoland QC does not think so
@PScotlandQC: @TheCriminalBar @seeyouincourt1 AG is the guardian of the public interest+the rule of law he has to speak up for justice otherwise who will.
However, reading between the lines it is as clear as clear can be that Mr Grayling does not even have the support of his own AG and the press know it.
The Independent – Monday 24th June 2013
8.       Proposed Mass Lobby of Parliament (including Find your MP) again
A message from the excellent Robin Murray:
Please do attend to lobby your MP on Monday or Wednesdays next week the 24th and 26th June between 4 and 7 pm.
To join the lobby Click HERE
I appreciate this is short notice and that some of you have commitments but I simply ask you how long will you be able to say that if the Government destroys your Practice. You may not be busy for much longer! It is worth making every sacrifice and doing all you can to attend on these days.
Let me put it bluntly. MP’s are being fed rubbish about legal aid and if you do not brief your MP’s and tell them the truth there is a danger they will trot out the MOJ rubbish in the debate next Thursday. They will not absorb your views because you wish them or think them. Osmosis does not work here. You have to tell your MP you do not want you and your colleagues to lose their jobs in the constituency on the basis of dishonest information overstating the legal aid spend and the daft international comparisons. There is a link to the latest briefing document when you book. 
So turn up and talk to your MP or forever wonder if it all goes wrong that if you had with others you may have achieved that tipping point that save legal aid.  We need to isolate the MOJ ministers and make them feel the heat. This is the one time when the leaders of the profession cannot help you. You need to speak to your MP to save your Job and client choice. Is your other engagement that important or unavoidable? Really?
Wednesday is a good day to go for reasons set out below following my discussions with the House of Commons simply due to greater size of rooms an availability of space compared to Monday although I’m going on Monday.
On Monday between 4 and 6.30 committee room 19 is booked by me in Karl Turner MP’s name holds 40 so effectively from 4 to 6pm for this room. Obviously we will turn over this from 4 to 6. So may accommodate on a 30 minute basis say 120 in that room. Any more will have to be taken elsewhere to MP’s rooms or just perched where possible. We will try to fill that room first.
On Wednesday we do better as again in Karl Turner MP’s name from 4 pm to 8 pm committee I have booked committee room 10 which holds 105 at one time. So on basis of 105 per 30 minutes we can take in that room perhaps 800 over that period in room 10. The rest will be perching elsewhere.
There must be an MP present at all times.
Good luck and let’s show them how lawyers fight in the public interest.

9.       Are the SRS a capable regulator? They announce a fast track scheme for all unsuitable suppliers
Our regulators are meant to ensure the public are protected from rogue outfits entering the market The BSB have proved themselves incapable of fulfilling that duty by granting the likes of Trevor Howarth a licence. Now the SRA are at it HERE
What business does a regulator have fast tracking such applications? They are meant to be independent. Time and time again we see that our regulators are independent the profession but not the politician. We must put a stop to this.
10.     Sir Alan Beith gets the point
MOJ procurement is beginning to un-ravel and Sir Alan sees rightly that a train crash is coming unless Mr Grayling is made to see some sense. Fortunately, Sir Alan might just be a position to do that.
I put in links to Sir Alan’s comments in the Guardian together with a link to the debate on the scandal of the translators, which is a cracking read.
The Guardian – Thursday 20th June 
Justice ministry outsourcing could lead to ‘train crash’, says watchdog
Debate on Capita – Thursday 20th June 
Interpreting and Translation Services
11.     Lord Neuberger rightly speaks out in the public interest
The Guardian publicises his stance:
The Guardian – Tuesday 18th June 
Legal aid cuts will drive out the best lawyers, Supreme Court president warns
12.     The Attorney General wriggles about the hypocrisy of the Government instructing who it wants whilst proposing
          to deny its citizens the same

Read it HERE
See my and Bill Waddington comments on this hypocrisy in the law society gazette HERE
13.     The Scandal of the Tagging Contract
A great paper from the PCT rapid response unit (one of our lesser known departments) HERE
 14.    Our own Ed Henry rescues Koo Stark and then goes to war
Ed Henry on Day Break TV at circa 8.10 HERE,  Well Worth a view
15.     Knowledge is power: MOJ answers to FOIs.
You can access the MoJ’s answers to previous FOI requests HERE
16.     How low can they sink? Police seek to smear the Lawrence’s
This is a truly disturbing story. If the police can really plant an undercover with a view to running a smear campaign against the Lawrence’s of all people, we are living in a very dangerous society indeed.
The Guardian – Sunday 23rd June 
Stephen Lawrence family and friends targeted by police ‘smear’ campaign

17.     Our roving reporters cover Legal Aid Question Time

Dan Bunting’s blog HERE
Gemma Blythe’s blog HERE
18.     Sexual Offences Conference
James Mulholland QC chaired and spoke at the CBA Sex Offences seminar on Saturday 22nd  June. He highlighted the obvious : where under any proposed government scheme, would there be room for cutting edge education in topics so vital to the public, delivered by a dozen leaders of the Bar and Judiciary.?
The answer of course is that such lectures would wither on the vine, leaving the public exposed to lawyers simply inadequate to the task of ensuring justice in this field.
19.     Winner of The Law Society essay competition:

‘Socrates: These cuts to legal aid seem immoral, do you not think, my friend?’

Are the Legal Aid Cuts in Breach of the Human Rights Convention?
20.     Something to make you smile from somewhere on the Western Circuit
The Wizard of Epsom
21.     Press and Blogs
The Telegraph – Legal Aid Cuts will “collapse the edifice’ of the justice system 
BBC – Legal Aid Cuts, What Has Changed (BBC)
West Country News – How cuts are affecting children

Do Right, Fear No One
Michael (Bloody) Turner 

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