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Ipswich/UK: Barristers set to take strike action

PUBLISHED: 09:23 06 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:23 06 January 2014

Steven Dyble

Steven Dyble

Archant

Cases at crown courts across England and Wales – including Ipswich – are expected to be disrupted today during the first ever strike of barristers.

They are expected to refuse to take part in morning sessions at Crown Courts in a protest at government plans to cut legal aid funding.

Barrister Stephen Dyble who appears regularly in Ipswich said: “In the past two years the Government has driven through pay cuts of 40%. In February 2014 a further 10% cut is due to be implemented.”

Nigel Lithman, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “A line has to be drawn in the sand before it’s too late. The cuts pose the most serious threat to the British legal system in more than 400 years.”

He added: “The government says it is tough on crime, but is stripping the criminal justice system of anyone able to adequately prosecute serious criminals or defend those falsely accused.

“We merely seek a pay freeze. What could be more reasonable than that? I have offered to engage with the Lord Chancellor as to how to make savings across the system.”

The strike comes as the government tries to cut down on its Legal Aid bills – these bills can be very high, especially for those accused of the most serious crimes.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that the Legal Aid bill for Ipswich serial killer Steve Wright was more than £444,000 during his trial at the start of 2008.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “At around £2 billion a year, we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world. Just like many hard-pressed families and businesses – we have no choice but to make savings. “Any disruption to court business is unnecessary, and lawyers choosing to do so inconvenience their clients and hard-working taxpayers.”

Barristers taking part in the walkout will be available to appear in court from 2pm.

Emergency services are at the scene of a two-vehicle crash in Fressingfield near Eye.

A man suffering from colitis who got a parking ticket while on an emergency bathroom break says the council could have shown him sympathy and let him off.

Motorists could face delays on the roads today as police escort an abnormal load through the county.

A new dualled A120 between Braintree and the A12 could see the first vehicles hit the road by mid 2026, according to a new report.

Essex Police have released a CCTV image of a woman they would like to speak to in connection to a shop theft in Braintree last week.

Firefighters tackled a blaze in Ardleigh near Colchester yesterday involving 60 tonnes of straw.

The whole care system in Suffolk must pull together in order to help our already challenged emergency departments make it through this winter safely.

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