I shall start my postcard this week with views on the Milly Dowler case – but without comment – save to say that I am interested to see what the Bar Council makes of the criticism in the mainstream media about the cross-examination by the defence Silk.
Some in the mainstream media (and others) seem to be taking the view that the Dowlers paid a high price for justice as their private lives were laid bare by the defence questioning. Suzanne Moore has a view.
David Allen Green, wrote in the New Statesman…
Cross-examination on trial and the murder of Milly Dowler
Barrister @_millymoo, on her Beneath The Wig blog in an excellent analysis asks…
AND…. rather more important to the whole field of criminal and civil justice – The legal aid cuts.
This… is very worrying…
Legal aid reform could end right to a free solicitor
A “cornerstone” of the legal system, the universal right to a solicitor upon arrest, could be jettisoned in favour of means-testing under controversial plans drawn up by the Ministry of Justice.
Legal experts including Lord Ken Macdonald QC, a former director of public prosecutions, have expressed alarm at the proposal and questioned how it would work in practice.
Lord MacDonald stated “This is a critical part of the apparatus of protection that we have,” he said. “The presence of a lawyer doesn’t just protect the defendant from police, it protects the police from a defendant making up allegations about what happened, for instance during the course of an interrogation. I think the government should be very cautious about interfering in any way with the absolute right to representation in police stations. It’s there for a very good reason. When we didn’t have it, we saw the consequences.”
Most of us will not come into contact with the Police in our daily lives. If we are the victims of crime, we will be grateful for such support as they can afford to provide. Cast aside the usual media storm of stories about ‘villains’ for one moment and bring cold reason to the issue. We need a responsible and honest police force. We need a legal system which provides fair trials – and we need lawyers, prosecution and defence – both working to high ethical standards – to ensure that our freedoms are upheld and our interests are not suppressed to the often transient needs of those who govern. Ignore the hyperbole about ‘fat cat lawyers’, ‘bent and criminally inclined coppers’ and ‘prosecution minded / ECHR minded / out of touch judges’ – it costs money and if we aren’t prepared to spend that money – what price our freedoms? What price or worth life in Britain?
This insertion, not much publicised (if publicised at all) into the new Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (HC Bill 205) is not encouraging and, hopefully, this specific provision about representation at the police station will be kicked into ‘the long grass’ along with a lot of other government proposals in recent months by the whirling dervishes who govern us (without, it has to be said, much experience of business, life, the universe et al) at the very heart of power in this latest GOAT – government of all the talents.
I shall return on the morrow with something else to write about… no doubt.
Best, as always,