Tag Archives: legal aid

The reality of living with, leaving and surviving domestic abuse

I’ve written this in response to Tim Farron’s article regarding domestic violence:

This is a subject very close to my heart, as I have been through this and come out of the other end. The problems started in 2008 when my now ex-husband lost his mother. He subsequently took this out on me, both verbally and physically. As a result I lost all confidence; I lost my career, my self-esteem and I was totally alone. Had I told anyone we still would have been alienated; we needed help as a family, not judgement from those around us.

Anyway, eventually I left. Not because it got worse, but because I could not forgive him for what he had done. Because I was perceived as not being in any immediate danger I found myself homeless. That’s ok. I understand that there are people who needed more immediate shelter. I had no access to funds. He had all the money. I had nowhere to go. I sofa-surfed; homeless. Living out of a holdall at the tolerance of others.

Eventually I scraped the money together for a deposit on a flat. I could rent a bedsit, which I am still renting. I was still contributing to the marital home and had little access to any money (my £1000 savings was barely cutting it, all my cash was tied up in the home). I spoke of the prospect of selling but he was never “ready” to sell. Then, after a year of polite negotiations, he told me I wasn’t entitled to half our flat (bearing in mind I wasn’t planning on looking at his savings and assets, just the home) and he told me to get a solicitor.

At this point my take-home earnings were about £1000 per month. Out of this came my rent (£550 per month), bills and council tax. I was also trying to pay off my credit card debt which I had accumulated as a result of needing to set up a home again (I was allowed 2 pieces of furniture and my clothes from the marital home). This left me with £200 disposable income; not including food. I had no car and never went out. I guessed my life was miserable enough for legal aid. I guessed wrong.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Opinion: Regina v Nigel Evans should wake up MPs

Statue of Justice - The Old BaileyNigel Evans’s acquittal on charges of rape and sexual assault has triggered various expressions of concern.
Those expressed, trenchantly by some, are:

    1. The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.
    2. The Crown treated him differently because he is an MP.
    3. The case shouldn’t have relied on alleged victims who did not consider themselves to have been victims.
    4. Nigel Evans is left with a huge bill to pay his defence.

“The Crown should never have prosecuted him because the evidence was weak.”

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 36 Comments

Opinion: Why I am against Grayling over Criminal Legal Aid

As a candidate for the European Parliament my focus is on EU-related issues: trade, climate change and cross-border crime. But some national issues are, in my view, so pressing that I cannot ignore them.  Among these are Chris Grayling’s proposed cuts to criminal legal aid, so severe they threaten whether defendants will have proper representation at all.

On 6 January, I was in Oxford to support a protest against these cuts.  Concurrent protests happened at courts all over England & Wales. The campaign aims to raise public awareness and persuade parliament to say ‘no’ to Grayling, as Parliament did over Price …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

The Independent View: Help stop legal aid becoming the new secret courts

Liberal Democrat members know that cuts to civil legal aid are illiberal. And they know the leadership is not facing a  dilemma between protecting liberal values and cutting the deficit because these cuts will cost, not save, money.

It was why the Emergency Motion to oppose cuts to legal aid (until it can be proved there will be “no adverse effect upon access to justice”) came out top of the ballot at conference this year and was then overwhelmingly passed. I had previously asked Lib Dem Voice readers to support this motion in the ballot so I want to say …

Posted in The Independent View | 12 Comments

The Independent View: A liberal democracy must protect all people from the state. Support Emergency Motion 2 on Legal Aid

Last week Chris Grayling, the Minister for Justice, responded to 16,000 consultation objections, with changes to his criminal legal aid proposals.  He conceded that someone who’s been arrested should be able to choose their solicitor; and criminal representation shouldn’t be just about price, but quality too.

You may think justice has been saved. But it hasn’t. Far from it. Which is why we are asking you to urge your conference voting reps to choose the Legal Aid Motion (Emergency Motion 2) for debate.

Because Chris Grayling is still removing legal aid and access to justice from whole groups of people, defined by …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged and | 3 Comments

Teather, Swales and Mulholland urge Government to rethink Legal Aid proposals

Listening to the Commons debate, secured by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, I felt relieved that I live in Scotland where the measures don’t apply. The big issue that’s hit the headlines is the withdrawal of choice of solicitor, but there are many more problems with it including the one year residence test. As Sarah Teather pointed out, how would representation be secured for a baby who is the subject of care proceedings.

Sarah talked about the effect of the measures on refugees:

Were it not for the intervention of lawyers, many refugees would be homeless at the very time when the

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Clegg shares his concerns over legal aid plans – full transcript

I spent half an hour on a train with Nick Clegg yesterday, chatting to him about a range of subjects for an interview that will run on the site later this week. After the interview I tweeted about Clegg’s interesting answer to my question to him on legal aid, and a journalist I know from the Mail on Sunday got in touch to say the paper was running a story on the subject and would be interested in seeing his answer. Here’s the Mail’s take:

A cabinet split over plans to cut legal aid deepened last night as Deputy Prime

Posted in News | Also tagged | 13 Comments
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