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Weekly Round Up 08.02.13

CBA Chairman’s Update: Michael Turner QC



  • A Message to the Twitterati
  • Does the Treasury Solicitor act without instruction?
  • Standing Firm with our sister profession
  • The Scottish Connection
  • Funding a Rolls Royce Service
  • Do Right Fear No One; Comment by the Chair.

1.                  A Message to the Twitterati

As a result of your many requests the CBA has enlivened its Twitter account and started a blog. Both initiatives are designed to get the message out there and for you to express your views to those negotiating on your behalf.


We have to remember at all times that unity of purpose is central to what we hope to achieve. We can and will, take a lead, but we can’t do it on our own. The Government is only too keen to operate a Divide and Rule Policy, just as they tried to divide us from the Solicitors profession over QASA. We have a thoroughly good group of Circuit Leaders and a Chair of the Bar who is as passionate about the profession as the next person, have a look at her comments in the Guardian this morning HERE.

They need our input and support, which until now you have not had an opportunity to give them. Twitter and the Blog have provided exactly that opportunity, which hopefully they will take on board. Social Media is there to unite and not divide us. It has given the Criminal Bar a chance as never before for ordinary hardworking barristers to make themselves heard. Pupils and juniors as well as silks.

Occasionally, we do not always see eye to eye in relation to the way forward. That is not because any one of us wants to sell the profession short, on the contrary we all want to save it from destruction. By virtue of its position the CBA can be less constrained than others. However, that does not mean that the CBA has a monopoly on the way to prevent this Government from killing off both professions. If we are going to succeed we will only do so by uniting against a common foe, and your contributions have played a vital role in that.

We believe from conversations we have had with them yesterday and today, that the Bar Council appreciates this. We need to work with them if at all possible. Let us concentrate the fire where it is due. We now have plenty of ammunition, and will deploy it very soon.


2.                  Does the Treasury Solicitor act without instruction?

Last week I reported that one of our number had been grossly libelled. The suggestion being that she has misled the Court in relation to the consent of the Minister of Justice to an anonymity order. That she had been maligned was proved by the production of the order signed on behalf of the Minister by the Treasury solicitor. Quincy Whittaker has now had her reputation restored as this piece in the Independent confirms HERE.  Now we are led to believe it is the Treasury Solicitor who is at fault for acting on a frolic of its own. If that is so there must be a lot of sore bottoms in T Sols office right now!


3.                  Standing Firm with our sister profession.

I have been working closely with the thoroughly good Bill Waddington (Chair of the CCSA) on an initiative we will both hope will bear fruit. There is nothing Chatham House about our discussions but I hope you allow me to keep it from public glare at present.


4.                  The Scottish Connection

On Wednesday I travelled to Glasgow to meet with representatives of our sister organisation in Scotland. They are under attack just as much as we are. In future, I hope that we will unite with our friends in Scotland and Northern Ireland to stop this wrongheaded attack on one of the best liberal professions in the world.


5.                  Funding a Rolls Royce Service

This Government claims it is necessary to rid itself of a Rolls Royce publically funded legal aid service because it can not afford it. Here are a few ideas of how it can be funded. We would be grateful for all your suggestions in this direction, post either on the forum HERE or blog HERE


  • Release restrained funds to pay legal costs


This is a topic that the CBA and our past Chairs have championed. It makes senses and avoids the mockery of rich defendants having their legal costs being paid by the state. A simple change to statute would allow the release of restrained funds under judicial supervision to pay legal costs. At a stroke saving the tax payer millions of pounds a year.


  • Levy on the Banks


Given it is the Banks whose systems allow frauds to take place should they not contribute to the cases that suck the most money out of the system?


  • Bring Back the Magistrates Courts Association


An idea we have floated before and one that would save the Government over £1 billion.


  • Zero Rated VAT on all legal aid fees.


What would be the administrative saving in stopping a ridiculous merry-go-round, where the Government gives us money which we then pay straight back?


  • Criminal Defence Service: Scrap it


The CDS receives £8 for each call to provide a service that all solicitors did and would do for free again.

6.                  Do Right Fear No One; Comment by the Chair.

If the exposure of the culture of the private sector in the running of publically funded services in the Health Sector, has not taught politicians from all parties a very costly lesson, nothing will. The report by Robert Francis QC catalogued failures at every level, resulting in the unnecessary death of 1,200 people    “failed by a system which ignored warning signs and put corporate self-interest and cost control ahead of patients and their safety”.  The current proposal envisages handing publically funded legal services to the private sector. If the private sector values profit over lives what will they do when they are charged with defending someone’s liberty? There can only be one answer. The public need our help more than ever to wrestle their rights back from the private sector who place profit over public interest.

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