Lawyers set for Holyrood protest in legal-aid row

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DEFENCE lawyers from across Scotland are to take part in a protest at Holyrood against a shake-up of legal aid that it is claimed will penalise solicitors and their clients.

The demonstration today comes after the Glasgow and Edinburgh bar associations voted in favour of industrial action, angry at plans that include
making low-income suspects pay contributions to legal bills.

Many of the solicitors planning to go to the protest are expected to attend the event
before making their usual professional appearances in Scotland’s courts.

Other legal bodies have also expressed their support, with the Law Society of Scotland’s president, Austin Lafferty, and chief executive, Lorna Jack,
expected to attend the demonstration to show their support for the legal aid lawyers.

The protest is planned to coincide with a Holyrood justice committee meeting, when amendments to the Scottish Civil Justice Council and Criminal Legal Assistance Bill will be heard.

Justice secretary Kenny Mac­Askill will also face questions from MSPs on the issue as the committee considers stage two of the bill.

Mark Harrower, the vice-president of the Edinburgh Bar Association, which has more than 100 members, said the protest would be a “show of the strength of feeling among
solicitors”, as he warned that strike action could take place within the next few weeks.