Hundreds of practitioners gathered outside the Palace of Westminster this afternoon in protest at the government’s policies on access to justice.
A 42-mile Relay for Rights march, from Runnymede to Westminster, was organised by Justice Alliance, culminating in an event called Not the Global Law Summit.
Robin Murray, vice-chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, told the event that he did not criticise justice secretary Chris Grayling for being a non-lawyer lord chancellor – ‘just for being a very poor one’.
Murray said it was a disgrace that, so close to a general election, ‘[Grayling] is pressing forward with [fee] cuts and a ridiculous two-tier [contracts] proposal’.
Describing Grayling as ‘the antithesis of what Magna Carta represents’, Murray warned the lord chancellor: ‘We’re coming for you. We will prevail. Our battle-standards will have the words “Magna Carta” embossed upon them.’
Jonathan Black, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association, said solicitors had gathered outside parliament ‘not to network but to expose the decimation of our justice system, which is being flogged off in a glorified car-boot sale’.
Black said the shredding of the legacy of this ‘great charter’ risked the profession returning to the dark days of the 1970s and 1980s, ‘and the horrors of miscarriages of justice’.
‘Please do not say we didn’t warn you,’ Black declared.
Labour MP Karl Turner said Grayling ‘should be in a prison rather than running our prisons’.
‘At least he’s consistent – consistently incompetent,’ he said. ‘[Labour is] not going to throw 1,000 experienced solicitor firms on the scrapheap. We’re going to protect that, and that’s a great place to start.’