Lawyers to stage Holyrood protest over legal aid shake-up

Two ex-SNP ministers have formed new alliance with Green Party and Margo MacDonald. Picture: PA
Two ex-SNP ministers have formed new alliance with Green Party and Margo MacDonald. Picture: PA
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DEFENCE lawyers from across Scotland are to take part in a protest at Holyrood tomorrow against a controversial shake-up of the administration of legal aid after a campaign was launched on Twitter.

• Glasgow Bar Association and Edinburgh Bar Association join forces

• Protest to coincide with Holyrood justice committee

The Glasgow Bar Association, with more than 300 members, and the Edinburgh Bar Association, with over 100, have unanimously voted in principle for a day of strike action if the SNP Government refuses to change proposed new legislation which seeks to introduce financial contributions for criminal legal aid for the first time.

A number of other legal bodies around the country have also expressed their support for the two larger bodies.

The Law Society of Scotland’s president Austin Lafferty and chief executive Lorna Jack are expected to attend the demonstration to show their support for the legal aid lawyers.

The protest, which will begin at 9am, 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.

Mark Harrower, vice-president of the Edinburgh Bar Association, said: “Defence solicitors are concerned at having to absorb the latest in a series of Government cuts to the legal aid fund that will further affect the administration of justice in Scotland, and force Scotland’s solicitors to act as unpaid debt collectors for the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

“The justice committee has supported the views of the lawyers to date and the professional bodies will be asking members, and all MSPs, to vote on the bill according to their principles rather than on party lines.”