The Haldane Society condemns the decision of the CBA, without reference to its members, to purport to suspend the industrial action taken by criminal barristers against the government's attacks on legal aid. Criminal barristers within the Haldane Society take the view that it is not for the leadership of the CBA to tell our profession whether or not we will take action in solidarity with our comrades in the solicitors profession, and within the civil bar. If there is to be any suspension of further action, it should be a decision of the members of the profession taken at a general meeting at which all are free to attend, so that the matter can be discussed openly.
The concessions offered by Grayling are pitiful in comparison to what we stand to gain by remaining united. Simply delaying the introduction of certain cuts to barristers' fees is insufficient. We demand the end to all government cuts to legal aid. This is achievable. Mere days ago Grayling described the cuts as being written in stone. Now they are up for negotiation. Further action will compel him to compromise further. We can defeat these cuts. All we need is solidarity.
Ending this struggle merely because some of our fees are secure plays into the hands of those who would call us fat cats. This struggle has never merely been about our fees. It is about access to justice. This is still under threat from the Grayling cuts. Our job is to serve the communities for whose rights we fight. This retreat by the CBA is letting the public down. Our clients' fights for justice don't stop at the criminal bar: their access to justice will be impeded without solicitors to help them through the gateway to justice, and without civil practitioners to obtain remedies for injustices done, and to challenge unlawful government decisions. To truly win, we must stand firm, in solidarity with comrades throughout the legal profession and beyond.
The Haldane Society continues to support the action to be taken on 31 March and 1 April by the solicitors profession and probation workers. We also continue to support any and all action against the cuts, including further withdrawal of labour by barristers.
The fight continues. If the CBA will not lead it, then someone else will.