Friday, 13 February 2015

Legal aid disparity worse than I thought

I should have posted this link last month, but I genuinely thought that Andy McSmith's story was so shocking that it would be picked up by other media. I have previously complained that while legal aid is still available for defendants in serious fraud cases, it is now much less so for ordinary people who most need it. Now it is clear that it is also available to the worst of criminals.

One of the most shocking murders to take place on British soil in recent years was the shooting of PC Ian Broadhurst on a street in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003[...] His killer was David Bieber, an American wanted for murder in Florida who had entered the UK illegally in 1996. He was arrested in Gateshead. Why he was in Gateshead was never explained. One suspicion is that he had gone there to carry out a contract killing.

This man, who had thousands of pounds in cash on him when caught, has made ample use of the legal aid system which the Government is busy cutting, putting justice beyond the means of many people who need it. From inside prison, where he must stay at least until the year 2041, he has launched a series of legal actions against the prison authorities. In July, a furious judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, exclaimed that they were all designed to make his life behind bars easier. He added: “All of the claims he has made have been funded by legal aid.”

What the judge did not have to hand was a global figure for how much Bieber has cost the legal aid system so far, but after a Freedom of Information request, the Ministry of Justice has totted it up. It comes to £1.87 short of £277,600.

Just think how many distressed evictees that could have helped.

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