Access denied – Ken Clarke, UK Justice Secretary

Austerity, riots, spiralling prison numbers and terrorist threats have led to major responses from the UK Government.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishing of Offenders Bill was heavily criticised in the House of Lords, while the Justice and Security green paper prompted hostility from leading lawyers and NGOs.

The IBA met with Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and put their concerns to him.

Currently standing at £2.1bn, the UK’s legal aid bill dwarfs most others. The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) addresses the UK Coalition Government’s commitment to cut costs fast, seeking to save £350m, and reducing the availability of legal aid.

‘If I manage to get all my changes through the House of Lords, we will still have by far the most expensive legal system of legal aid in the world’, Clarke emphasises, adding that ‘no other Western democracy would make taxpayers’ money so widely available for so much litigation and legal advice… what we mustn’t do is just leave untouched a system that has grown astonishingly, making the poor extremely litigious’.

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