"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Friday, 17 July 2009

Straw's Law's Poor

Slippery, fork-tongued ex-Marxist Jack Straw, Justice Secretary, is dangling a skein of wool in front of us and trying to pull it over our eyes. In his statement to the House yesterday about overhauling legal aid he outlined plans to curb 'nuisance claims' made by prisoners. He trumpeted that prisoners would have to exhaust internal complaints procedures before being granted legal aid:

“Prisoners need to know that the days of pursuing illegitimate and trivial claims — paid for by the taxpayer — are over.”

He added: “These proposed measures will ensure that prisoners making complaints about trivial, unimportant things, like poor TV reception or extended access to the prison gym, will not get legal aid. These are commonsense reforms and should see an end to prisoner exploitation of the legal aid budget.”
It sounds good, doesn't it? However, an internal Ministry of Justice assessment reported in today's Times shows that only 75 of 1,272 inmates’ damages claims brought against prison or probation services last year used legal aid. The assessment states:

“...the vast majority of the claims against the Prison Service are privately funded, or funded through contingency fees, with legal aid only funding a minority, 6 per cent, of the total. The benefits and costs of this measure are considered to be negligible. Thus there is no significant net impact.”

I suggest that instead of tinkering with the legal aid system the Justice Ministry looks instead at the HRA which has encouraged all these spurious claims. (There is also more here in a separate article about how changes to legal aid could affect you).

It all puts me in mind of that well-known phrase or saying: Once a Marxist, always a lying toad. (Bollox Bob Ainsworth, take note).

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