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Criminal Bar steps up criminal legal aid fight

The Criminal Bar Association is prepared to escalate further action over criminal legal aid.

Since April 11, hundreds of barristers agreed on a ‘no returns’ policy. This meant not covering for colleagues on returned cases because courts had overrun, been rescheduled or caused a diary clash.

Criminal Bar chair Jo Sidhu QC said several members have expressed the desire to adopt more disruptive action over the government’s response to Sir Christopher Bellamy’s criminal legal aid recommendations.

Sidhu said: “Over the coming weeks, we will be seeking your views on whether our current action should be escalated. Zoom meetings will be organised for those below and above 7 years’ call respectively, to afford all our members the opportunity to express their opinions on whether, and which, additional options should be pursued. These questions will also be addressed at our next scheduled meeting with the heads of chambers and circuit leaders on 9 June. Please therefore ensure that you communicate your views to them in advance of that date so that we obtain the widest possible input from the criminal bar.

“Subject to the feedback we receive from all quarters, we propose to hold a further ballot later in June to determine what, if any, additional action should be pursued.”

Sidhu did not reveal what the extra action would entail.

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