"Hands off legal aid": Solicitors protest outside Hereford Magistrates Court over Government's reform proposals (From Hereford Times)
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"Hands off legal aid": Solicitors protest outside Hereford Magistrates Court over Government's reform proposals
Updated 12:26pm Monday 10th March 2014 in News
A SOLICITOR has told the Government to "keep its hands off" proposed legal aid cuts that he says will have a detrimental effect on criminal justice.
Philip Cornell wore gloves and held a devil's trident to get his message across outside Hereford Magistrates Court on Friday as part of a national day of strikes.
Last year, the Hereford Times reported that people suspected of a criminal offence may no longer have the right to a solicitor of their choosing in the police station or in court as part of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reforms.
The MoJ also wants to limit the number of firms representing suspects qualifying for legal aid to nine across Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Worcestershire.
But, crucially, not of one of the nine firms is from Herefordshire.
Mr Cornell, of Cornell and Co, joined other county solicitors to protest outside the city court to try and stop the changes from going ahead.
The day of action meant that only family cases and listings involving vulnerable people were dealt with by the court on Friday.
Mr Cornell said that the gloves signalled "hands off legal aid", while the trident "seemed appropriate."
"I get a bit sick of banners and tridents, so it seemed the right thing to do and people were coming up asking why I was there," said Mr Cornell.
"Everyone is up in arms about it because it will cause more problems than it will solve.
"If you represent yourself in court, you can waste the time of the court and quite often do not do yourself any favours.
"You need somebody pointing you in the right direction, but that is not going to happen in the future.
"You are going to get miscarriages of justice."
The proposed cuts would save £220m of the annual £2bn annual cost across the country.
But, Emma Prosser, from Caldicott Gallimore, said that the proposals would affect everyone.
"It will see the end of us as criminal solicitors and will totally undermine what criminal justice is meant to be about," she said.
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