Proof Magazine Launch in Parliament

ProofI spent a wonderful afternoon in Parliament on the 18th of July, leading a delegation from Hackney Community Law Centre to the House of Commons for the launch of the issue 3 of Proof Magazine – ‘Why legal aid matters‘.

The publication, produced by The Justice Gap (for whom I am a commissioning editor) and The Justice Alliance – a coalition of charities, community groups, legal campaigners and trade unions who campaign against Government cuts to legal aid – tells the story of why legal aid matters promoting the campaign to highlight the devastating impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), which was introduced by the former coalition government in 2012. The magazine was funded through a crowdfunding campaign I ran in June 2016.

Team HCLC and Julius

It was wonderful that Julius Holgate, a Hackney Community Law Centre client, came up to Parliament with my colleagues and I to speak about his terrible experience with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Julius is a double amputee with no legs who had been assessed ‘fit for work’ by the DWP. The DWP had argued that because he had arms, he could use them to ‘climb’ stairs and so had ‘mobility’. When his benefits were cut, Julius fell into debt and had to pawn his jewellery to survive. It was only when Hackney Community Law Centre got involved – despite there being no legal aid funding to do so – that the DWP overturned this decision. Continue reading “Proof Magazine Launch in Parliament”

Proof Magazine Roundtable

Proof Magazine Roundtable

I was delighted to participate in a recent roundtable discussion on the future of Legal Aid. The roundtable, which was organised by the Justice Alliance and chaired by Guardian journalist Shiv Malik, will be turned into a feature in a special edition of the Justice Gap‘s Proof MagazineThe issue will focus entirely on legal aid.

Other participants at the roundtable included Richard Burgon MP, the Shadow Justice Secretary; Greg Powell, solicitor and former president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association; Deborah Coles, Director of Inquest; Vakas Hussain, barrister and press officer of British Muslim Youth; and Gloria Morrison from campaign group Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association (JENGbA).

The discussion was excellent. Everyone who contributed had a professional or campaign interest in legal aid but it was clear that they also cared deeply about access to justice issues on a personal level. It was an real honour to be invited to take part and be in such esteemed company.

The first two issues of Proof Magazine have focused on ‘Justice in a Time of Moral Panic‘ and ‘The Limits of Open Justice‘. The special issue on legal aid will be published shortly. It promises to be a informative and long overdue read.