Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Legal Aid shambles: Chilcot: European Arrest Warrants

With thanks to Wikicrimeline.

Attention is drawn to the Public Accounts Committee report about the shambles which is the Procurement of Legal Aid in England and Wales. The report is scathing.

The Legal Services Commission— spends £2.1 billion a year on buying civil and criminal legal aid, mainly from solicitors and barristers, and a further £125 million on administration.

…. the Ministry of Justice spends over £2 million a year itself on legal aid policy matters and on overseeing the Commission.

They also found that in 2008-9 some £25 million was overpaid to solicitors and that some barristers (notably QCs) can earn up to £1 million a year from publicly funded legal aid cases.

A lot of wasted money there. It could have been better spent on … well …. maybe legal aid for those who need it.

The Chilcot Iraq Inquiry continues. A lot of people see it as some form of court set up to allocate blame. That was never the intention and it is not a court and is not a statutory inquiry. There have been calls for a skilled cross-examiner who would act as “counsel to the inquiry.” That’s all very well but the whole thing would have become more legalistic with everyone who appeared being represented by a lawyer. Probably many of the things which people have felt able to say would not have been said for fear of any possible legal consequences. Overall, Chilcot has done a good job.

The European Arrest Warrant – This was discussed on this blog back in early January. Mr Mann has brought a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights but that court is now awaiting the outcome of a hearing before the UK Supreme Court. Even David Blunkett, who introduced the EAW, says that he did not foresee overuse of the powers. Really! Here is The Independent’s take on the story.

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