In case you didn’t notice, April Fools’ Day brought something special to the mass media this year.
The news famine generated by a four-day holiday pulled the topic of civil legal policy from the dusty corners of the classified ad sections to the dazzling sunlight of the front pages. It was intriguing to see how outlets who think legal aid begins and ends with Dale Farm and Abu Hamza dealt with the story. The Mail helpfully used images from Ally McBeal (pictured) and Kavanagh QC to illustrate a guide to litigants in person.
The Guardian illustrated an earnest warning about ‘advice deserts’ with a stock shot of circuit judges processing through the Royal Courts of Justice.
The BBC’s headline that legal aid changes ‘spark solicitor warnings’ made Obiter wonder why no solicitors bothered to make these warnings when the cuts were first announced.
And Anthony Gold’s David Marshall, who had offered his services to any media needing expert opinion, tells us he received several calls from the press on 1 April – mostly for comments on a police officer’s personal injury claim for tripping over a step. Unfortunately, making the news agenda on the day of the cuts will do nothing to reverse them. It felt like reading a front-page obituary for a celebrity who died two years ago.