Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.
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Monday, 17 March 2014
FRANZ KAFKA IN SPIRIT AT THE HIGH COURT
It seems the spirit of Franz Kafka has been sighted at the High Court. A recent decision meant that vulnerable people in the prison system, including inmates with mental health problems and women with babies, would suffer injustice following the removal of the right to criminal legal aid in many prison law cases. That argument was rejected by their Lordships on the basis that the decision was political and the Lord Chancellor`s actions were therefore not unlawful. Phillippa Kauffman Q.C. acting for the charities which had brought the case asserted that, “People are not going to be able to adequately represent themselves. "The cuts will also interfere with the right of access of prisoners to the courts”. James Eadie Q.C. in a response worthy of Kafka said, “If there was unfairness at internal hearings or reviews in the prison justice system, or before parole boards, civil legal aid was available for complainants seeking judicial review”. In reply, Ms Kaufmann said judicial review was no answer because the changes in the system meant that, with prisoners now denied legal assistance, no one would know if they were entitled to bring claims against the prison authorities. These victims of unfair decisions will not know where to go. They don't have any lawyers any more to help them."
A fuller report is available in the Guardian.
Latest news from report in Law Society Gazette is that the charities will take their case to the Court of Appeal.