Today, barristers and solicitors are protesting against the legal aid cuts. I know that some people regard the legal system as oppressive towards women – but while legal aid is so badly threatened, let’s have a look at how much more oppressive it would be without it.
Without legal aid, women like Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who killed her husband after suffering years of abuse, would remain liable to prosecution for murder. She successfully appealed her conviction and was released with a conviction for manslaughter. Legal aid assisted the four women who were wrongly convicted (on the poor expert evidence of Roy Meadow) of killing their own children. Outside the criminal law, legal aid has assisted women who have reported sexual abuse in Yarls Wood detention centre, women who have been trafficked into the UK, women who have suffered domestic abuse and women who face wrongful deportation.
The law is not perfect. But it will become a lot less perfect if a whole swathe of the population are denied access to justice, most notably in those areas where they wish to challenge the state. This will affect the most vulnerable in society the most. Please support the campaign against the cuts.