Barristers, in full courtroom attire, have staged their first walk-out for 300 years in an angry protest over Government plans to cut legal aid for criminal cases.
Lawyers will protest in legal dress outside Birmingham Crown Court today as part of a campaign by members of the legal sector.
Members of the profession believe the cuts will mark the end of a world-renowned justice system, taking an already stretched sector past breaking point. Barristers say they have been left with no choice but to walk out after making concerted attempts to help the Government make savings.
Spokesperson Sarah Forshaw QC said: “For months we have tried to engage in constructive dialogue with the Government, offering solutions that would both save money and preserve the British justice system.
“We feel there is no option available but to make a stand.
“The walk-out has been scheduled for a time where disruption will be kept to a minimum and we are keen to raise awareness of the concerns we have, without seriously damaging the system we are immensely proud to be a part of.
“The justice system of this country, which has been the envy of the world for centuries, is at stake.”
The Government plans to cut £220 million a year from the annual budget of £1 billion for criminal cases.
A statement issued last year by the Ministry of Justice said: “About £1 billion a year is spent on criminal legal aid – we can no longer avoid examining how to deliver better value for every penny of taxpayers’ money.”