Updated: Tuesday, 31st March 2020 @ 1:33pm

Silence in the court! Manchester lawyers stage walk-out protest against government cuts to legal aid

Silence in the court! Manchester lawyers stage walk-out protest against government cuts to legal aid

By Marios Papaloizou

Protestors have gathered outside Manchester Crown Court to support the mass non-attendance of lawyers battling against government cuts to legal aid.

Proposed government cuts of £220million have led lawyers – dressed in full legal attire – from cities across the whole of the UK to take part.

The protest is unprecedented with no mass ‘non-attendance’ occurring in the Criminal Bar Association’s history which stretches back to the 13th century.

Mark Krantz, a protestor from Manchester, told MM that he was at the court to support lawyers who were trying to make a living.

“These are not fat-cat lawyers, these are just people from Manchester trying to make a living,” he said.

“They got into this job because they want to help. Just like doctors want to make people better or a fireman wants to rescue people, they want to defend people so they get a fair hearing.

“We are here to show lawyers that other people support them.”

Legal aid provides financial assistance to those who cannot afford representation and lawyers argue that cuts will see their fees fall by up to 30%.

Mr Krantz was positive about the protest and said that he believed it could make a real difference.

“Some people who need help will not be able to get it but we can make a difference,” he said.

“The government has already backed down over previous cuts.

“We will keep going, this is not a one off.”

Liberal Democrat Withington MP John Leech also backed the protest saying that he has 'serious concerns' about the government cuts.

"As far as criminal legal aid is concerned, I have very serious concerns about changes to legal aid that would result in the ability to pay dictating whether or not defendants were able to have a choice of who will defend them in court," he said.

"I have met with many legal representatives in my constituency to talk through exactly how these changes are going to affect them. I hope Chris Grayling with take notice of this demonstration and have a rethink on these proposals.”

Images courtesy of Mark Krantz, with thanks

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