The protest against the government’s legal aid cuts on 7 March attracted plenty of media attention, and not only because the organisers achieved something of a coup in persuading a couple of famous people to attend.
Press snappers fixed on Maxine Peake, aka the lipsticked rule-breaking Martha Costello QC from the BBC’s drama Silk, who waved a placard in support.
The demo will not have escaped staff at the Ministry of Justice either – hundreds of noisy lawyers chanted fortissimo ‘Grayling, Grayling, Grayling, out, out, out’, ‘Simon Hughes, shame on you’ and other pithy slogans outside the building. A bugler sounded the Last Post and protesters took an enormous and extremely well-crafted puppet of the justice secretary into the ministry to present officials with a modern day Magna Carta.
One person not so disturbed by the protest was the justice secretary himself. Chris Grayling was not in London on Friday, but in his Epsom and Ewell constituency. However, once calm was restored to Petty France, ministers last week held a drinks bash for the legal and home affairs desks of her majesty’s press corps.
Despite his absence from the ministry, Grayling had seen pictures of the puppet, which he seemed to think was quite a good likeness.
Would he put in a bid were it auctioned? He told Obiter, that, alas, he would not – Mrs Grayling would not have it in the house.
Perhaps the puppet master will get the opportunity to meet his likeness at some future legal aid event – so long as it’s not on a Friday.