Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Barristers Plan Action

There's always a danger that as a profession the battle with Chris Grayling and the government over the TR omnishambles means we take our eye off what's happening elsewhere. A good example concerns our legal colleagues and their battle with the very same minister over criminal legal aid cuts. 

I notice that the criminal bar are planning unprecedented direct action for January 6th, as reported here. I suspect they might be able to show us a thing or two about common purpose and solidarity:-

The bar has stood firm against further cuts, pointing out that no other profession has sustained cuts of the magnitude already imposed on us. We have been met only with the response that the Government needs to save money and that we will have to bear the brunt of it again.

In the past the bar has made polite protests and done no more with the result that we have been targeted for fee cuts on a repeated basis. There is now a strong feeling at the criminal bar that if these cuts are introduced they will make it impossible for many to continue in practice. The loss of a large number of good practitioners will either destroy the criminal bar or render it a small and ineffective group unable to prosecute and defend to the high standards that have been expected of them hitherto. The criminal justice system will suffer as a direct result of the cuts. Trials will take longer and Judges will be deprived of the help that they have rightly come to expect will be provided to them.
It is against the background and for the reasons set out above that many members of the criminal bar intend to attend a series of meetings across the country on Monday 6th January 2014 so that they can discuss their futures. They will be ready to resume by 2pm. It is not a decision that has been taken lightly.
It is of course a matter for each individual barrister to decide whether he or she will protest in this way. It is anticipated however that the likely consequence will be that Crown Courts throughout the land will not be able to sit until 2.00 pm.
The rest of this document sets out a suggested non-binding protocol to ensure that there is minimum inconvenience to the Courts and to lay clients.
The guiding principle should be that those who decide not to attend Court on the morning of the 6th January 2014 should give notice of their unavailability.


  1. http://www.messengernewspapers.co.uk/news/10861613._/

    1. TRAFFORD Probation Service is taking part in a 24-hour Twitterthon, in which staff will constantly update followers about its role.

      Staff at the probation office, on Newton Street, Old Trafford, supervise offenders on community sentences as well as prisoners on licence from prison.

      The trust aims to increase public safety by holding offenders to account for their actions, while also supporting their rehabilitation.

      Tim Kyle, assistant chief executive, said: “It is easy to overlook the work of probation because the service only really grabs media headlines when things go wrong.

      “That is why I am delighted that staff from across the trust is participating in a Twitterthon that is aimed at raising awareness about our work.

      “We have a dedicated team of professionals who work tirelessly to ensure that offenders are complying with the orders they have been sentenced to by magistrates and judges, and who also strive to support offenders to help them once again become positive members of their community.”

      Trafford is the first probation service in the country to undertake a 24-hour Twitterthon and hopes the exercise will better inform residents of the work it does in the borough.

      Mr Kyle added: “We work closely with a range of agencies - including the police, local authority and prison service - to protect the community, and I hope that people who are able to follow Twitter will get a flavour of the range of tasks we undertake.”

      The Twitterthon is taking place on Thursday, December 12. Follow @gmptprobationPR, hashtag #GMPT24.

    2. In this current climate the best Tim Kyle can come up with is a Twitterthon. I cann't believe it. People are worried about their future, sick of TR propaganda, working under extreme pressure, working within limited resources and the best he can come up with a Twitterthon. Please someone tell me he is joking!!!!


  2. This may be worth watching and may even raise a question or two about the third sectors involvement with TR. Would it be right if the work you carried out with offenders was underpinned by considerations and concerns for corporate relationships?

    1. http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/16572/sector_endures_media_black_tuesday#.UqcbAbsRe2I

    2. Accusations that Save the Children has been censoring criticism of the energy industry out of fear of upsetting corporate partners is just one negative story that the charity world has woken up to this morning.
      BBC Panorama’s ‘All in a good cause’ will tonight examine the financial investments and expenditures of some charities, including Save the Children, Comic Relief and Amnesty International.

      A whistleblower from Save the Children, its former head of news Dominic Nutt, told the programme that press releases he would write condemning British Gas and its fuel prices, were spiked. The fuel giant was a corporate partner of the charity, yielding £1.5m to Save the Children in the ten years up to November 2012.

      And email chains due to be broadcast by the programme suggest that a fuel poverty campaign was abandoned over fears it would jeopardise potential EDF money.

      Hutt said: “Being warm and friendly and non-challenging to corporates became part of the Save the Children DNA.”

      He wrote in today’s Independent: “Companies want only one thing – good PR. And that’s why they come to Save and other charities. Corporations are stuffing the mouths of some NGOs with gold, and it is wrong.”

      Hutt added that there were other examples where Save the Children restricted comment to avoid upsetting corporate partners. He claims that a blog post written on the abuse of children in the tea industry was cut over fears it would jeopardise the charity’s relationship with Lipton.

  3. Interesting news here about government outsourcing. Sorry its off topic, but maybe private companies just don't see much value in government contracts anymore.


    1. Also this report. It could be that the governments rush to privatise everything may again be under intense media focus. Might even raise renewed concerns over Graylings plans?


    2. The government has abandoned plans to privatise its defence procurement body after only one bidder was left in contention for the contract.

      Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said there was no longer a "competitive process" and the risks of continuing were "too great to be acceptable".

      But private sector experts are to be hired to buy military equipment, he told MPs.

      Labour described the decision as an "embarrassing U-turn".

      The Bristol-based Defence Equipment and Support Agency has an annual budget of £14bn. It buys equipment including ships, aircraft and weapons for the armed forces.

      The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had been considering replacing the agency with a "government-owned, contractor-operated" (GoCo) body, which it said would streamline operations and provide better value for money.

      But two of three consortiums interested in the contract withdrew.

      Mr Hammond told MPs: "I've decided not to continue the present competition."

    3. An industry source just told me the Ministry of Defence has wasted "tens of millions of pounds" on the project.

      Defence Equipment and Support, DE&S, buys everything from tanks and warships, to light bulbs and tyres for the Ministry of Defence.

      The government wanted to part privatise DE&S but will today confirm it is abandoning the plans.

      It means the MoD is back to square one: DE&S will remain in government hands.

      All but one of the private consortia which had bid to run the service pulled out and the Treasury ruled the plans could not go ahead when only one private operator was left in the running.

      So after spending many millions of taxpayer's money on the project - including on expensive consultants - the Defence Secretary is beating a retreat and has nothing to show for it.

      Sources at Bechtel - the company which wanted to run DE&S - claimed they could have saved taxpayers many billions of pounds over the course of the contract through cheaper sourcing, better negotiating and a more efficient operation.

      Meanwhile, over at the Department for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith (who has woken up today in the same grumpy mood he appeared to be in yesterday), has increased the write off costs of the Universal Credit computer system.

      It now totals £40.1 million but the department has acknowledged a further £90 million could come from a software write down over the next five years.

      Labour, as Iain Duncan Smith has just been pointing out in the Commons, had its own (very large) issues with technology costs - like the systems for tax credits and the NHS.

      But this smacks of a rush to reform in two government departments and the taxpayer is picking up a bill for a hundred million pounds or so in just a couple of days.

    4. Thanks newshounds! - you've been busy today.



  4. http://m.hsj.co.uk/5066274.article