Lumley is legal aid campaign's secret weapon

14 Feb, 2011

Coalition ministers will be quivering in their ministerial boots after a campaign against cuts to legal aid recruited Joanna Lumley as their champion.

The actress’ efforts on behalf of Gurkha veterans forced Gordon Brown’s government into an embarrassing U-turn and lobbyists will be hoping Ms Lumley can do the same for the ‘Sound Off For Justice’ campaign.

“Everyone has a right to be heard,” the Telegraph newspaper quoted her as saying.

“I support Sound Off For Justice as I believe justice is only just if it is available to everyone. Without legal aid, cases like the Gurkha Justice Campaign, which I was privileged enough to be involved with, could never have been fought, let alone won.”

Spending cuts worth £350 million mean that legal aid, initially set up in 1949, will be severely cut back. Key areas including medical negligence and family issues will be taken out of its scope completely.

The Bar Council, representing barristers in England and Wales, published its response to the government’s proposals today.

It has agreed that the basic cost of litigation should be reduced where it is currently too high, but warned that ordinary people needing legal representation will pay the price.

Christopher Hancock QC said: “We are concerned that in many cases these proposals will lead to acute problems for litigants seeking access to justice.

“The combination of cuts to legal aid and plans which will impact severely on funding of smaller cases must not be allowed to exclude whole categories of parties from the ability to seek legal redress.”

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