Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar Council, has made the following statement ahead of tonight’s Vigil for Justice outside the Ministry of Justice.
“As a result of repeated cuts, our justice system has deteriorated over many years to breaking point, and we are now seeing the cumulative impact on practitioners seeking to operate within it – particularly the criminal and family Bar – on all others working within it, and on members of the public passing through it.“The need for this vigil is, in itself, a troubling reflection of the current state of affairs, in that those protesting against the cuts to legal aid and the wider justice system feel driven to take direct action to make their concerns heard. Its necessity is to be strongly lamented, but it is heartening to see so many across the public and legal sectors, who truly understand the desperate need for change, come together in recognition of such a crucial issue and call on the Government to fulfil its responsibility to the public to deliver a justice system that it works as intended.
“True and proper justice has no substitute; it is not an ‘optional extra’ for which funding requirements can be ignored – otherwise the public will pay the ultimate price. We hope that this evening’s vigil will play a part in driving home in Government the urgent need for long-term reinvestment to ensure that the public remain safe and that confidence in the justice system is restored.”