Bill Bache interview: Angela Cannings, Experts and Legal Aid

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We can afford justice!

Solicitor Bill Bache is best known for representing Angela Cannings, the mother wrongfully convicted of murdering three of her children. Here he speaks to Oliver Lewis about the case, expert evidence, legal aid cuts, and his long career which has taken some unusual turns. This article appears in the latest edition of The Advocate

 

Bill Bache is one of the few lawyers to have done both conveyancing and to have appeared in a Court Martial in the middle of a warzone. And that’s before you get to the family courts, war crimes cases, ID parades in Basra, the coroner’s court where he sat as a deputy coroner, and of course his practice as a leading lawyer in ‘cot death’ and ‘baby shaking’ cases in the criminal courts.

Traditional solicitor

We meet in a bar on Theobolds Road a few hundred yards from his London office. Every inch the old school solicitor in smart linen jacket, striped shirt and pink tie on a sunny afternoon, he sits alongside his long-time colleague, Jacqui Cameron.

Bill served articles with a firm in Bedford Row before qualifying in 1967.  He then worked in local government before joining a firm in Salisbury in 1973 where he first did conveyancing and civil law. Soon he was appearing in magistrates and family courts regularly, as well as in courts martial, Salisbury being near to an Army base.

“I was prevailed upon to go courts for which I hadn’t been particularly trained but they seemed to like what I did,” he says. “As time went on I found what I seemed to like was looking out for the individual against the power of the state in one way or another.”

A spell as deputy coroner for Swindon and Wiltshire sparked an interest in medical aspects of legal proceedings and later he became involved in the case that would become one of the most difficult of his career.

Angela Cannings case

When he was asked to represent Angela Cannings it seemed providential, he says. His experience in the criminal courts, the coroner’s court, and in dealing with care proceedings all came together, but even with all that useful experience under his belt, the difficulties in the Cannings case came as a surprise, not least, he says, the prejudice and difficulties faced by women brought into a dock to defend themselves against charges of killing their baby.

The Cannings case came not long after the similar case of Sally Clark, who like Angela Cannings had been brought up in Salisbury. That case had also featured evidence from the paediatrician Professor Sir Roy Meadow.  A family solicitor friend of sally Clark warned Bache about what to expect, and told him to forget any illusions about the prosecution having to prove their case. What you effectively have to do, he was told, is go out and prove your client’s innocence. With three deceased children that was going to be difficult.

“I was almost naive at the time,” says Bache. “I had always proceeded on the basis that it was the prosecution’s job to prove its case and to do so beyond reasonable doubt, and if it couldn’t do that then in my book the accused should walk free. I kept being told there had been three cot-deaths and therefore it was likely to be murder. I never followed the logic at all.”

Eventually he got hold of the prosecution papers. “I have been dealing with criminal matters for a long time and in nearly all those cases your client can’t understand why they have been arrested, some of them protesting more sincerely than others about their innocence I should say, and you turn the pages and there nearly always comes a moment when you see something in the evidence when you say ‘Ah, that’s why they think you have committed an offence, I can see the police’s point, I can see why they are saying there should be a prosecution. In the Cannings case I turned the pages from beginning to end and I never found anything of the kind.”

Expert witnesses

Bache set about the case determined to find the right experts, but at first found it difficult to find anyone prepared to help.

“Most experts you wouldn’t see for dust. Finally we found someone prepared to be sceptical about the dogmatic claims that it had to be murder. Then we began seeing experts who said we also needed to go to this or that specialist, each sparked off the need to go to the next. We spoke to over twenty experts and ended up calling sixteen at the trial.”

Cot-deaths were then and still are to an extent a scientific enigma, he says. “There were all sorts of theories, and some were better than others. It was a very good grounding in how to deal with cases of this nature and a lesson in looking at the whole picture. The family had lived in a small village where there had been a cluster of cot-deaths and so we investigated whether there might there have been an environmental factor. There was also a nearby Government research establishment where experiments relating to biological and chemical warfare were taking place. We had to look at everything.”

Cannings was convicted by the jury, partly on the evidence of the later discredited Meadow, but Bache never doubted his client’s innocence.

“With Cannings, and indeed all the mothers and fathers I have had to deal with in this situation, there is something about them which makes you think there is absolutely no way they have done what they are accused of. Their innocence shines through in a way that simply doesn’t happen in most other cases. I am struck by their sheer bewilderment that anyone could even think they could have hurt their child.”

Appeal

After Cannings was convicted, Bache knew they had to appeal. He was helped by a BBC journalist who researched the Cannings records in Ireland and discovered cot deaths in the family. Then the night before a pre-trial hearing and just a month before the appeal itself Bache received a phone call. Until that moment Angela Cannings didn’t know she had a half-sister.

“I had been working late hours on the appeal and for once I had more or less tidied my desk and I was in two minds whether to answer it. She told me that her own children had all had episodes or attacks where they had difficulty breathing. We were seeing her within the hour. We had to get new reports from a geneticist and others and be ready for the full hearing in a month. The Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that there may well have been some natural cases at work.”

The judgment was a landmark. “Although we were gutted when she was convicted, in hindsight we would not have had the benefit of the brilliant judgment by Lord Justice Judge, which seemed to me to redress the balance and bring things back to where they should have been in the first place, which was to remind everyone that the prosecution does need to prove its case. And if there is no scientific explanation you cannot simply go on from there to say there must have been criminal behaviour. If there is no scientific explanation then the answer is ‘We don’t know’. That should result in an acquittal.”

Similar cases

Since Cannings, Bache has dealt with a series of cases in which the interpretation of complicated medical data has been key. He secured an acquittal at a retrial for the couple accused of murdering their child in the salt poisoning trial.

“These sorts of cases seem to come in and out of fashion. The allegations against Clark and Cannings were to do with smothering. Then we had a spell of salt poisoning cases. Now there is an increasing number of shaken baby cases.” The consequences of these cases, he says, can be utterly devastating. “In the event a parent is found guilty of causing death or injury they will never be allowed to keep any future children. The children will be taken into care straight away. It’s been known for police to be actually in the delivery room waiting to take the new-born child. The consequences last forever, and if this is done as a result of an injustice that is a terrible price we pay as a society.”

So how does Bache assess the importance of the availability of expert evidence?

“The best way for defendants or parents to demonstrate they are not guilty is to have the evidence extensively examined by the right experts of weight and reputation. The prosecution and local authorities return to some experts time and again because they anticipate the opinion is going to fall down on the side of abuse. Where there is a grey area the most valuable experts are those who take a long and independent look at the data and give a carefully thought out and reasoned opinion. You should trust your experts, but make sure they are not dogmatic. I have heard experts talk about ‘mainstream opinion’, implying that it must be right. I won’t have truck with that. You only have to look at the time when people thought the earth was flat or the sun went round the earth, dearly held dogma to the point where anyone who said otherwise was executed.”

There are too many experts with an investment in having their pet theories proved, he says.

“There’s a danger they may be tempted to interpret the evidence in ways which support their dogma rather than giving an independent view of the evidence. Defendants can only break down that wall with the help of courageous and skilfully applied science with experts of the right calibre.”

Legal aid cuts

How does he see the current round of legal aid cuts affecting how justice is done?

“All solicitors know that getting funding for experts is a difficult process. You must get prior authority, which is often not approved because the rates are too high, yet these are world leaders in their fields. So someone perhaps facing a life sentence may be denied the best help they can get, facing a charge brought against them by the state, yet the state is not prepared to fund them. I notice the prosecution rarely have difficulty in instructing their own experts, yet defendants are squeezed and face great difficulties imposed by the state which makes it harder freely and properly to prepare their cases. And it is far worse now than when we did Cannings.  It would be very difficult now to get the number of experts we did in the Cannings case.”

He would like to see changes to the way funding of legal aid is administered. “Prosecutions are in state hands, which is as it should be, the courts are run by the state, and the funding to allow people to defend themselves is also in state hands. I would like to see a reversion to the separation of powers, I would like to see funding placed in more independent hands as it used to be.”

What about people who say we can’t afford it?

“Yes we can! What we can’t afford is a shabby system of justice which doesn’t care and allows serious injustice to go on, because that is deeply corrosive to the welfare of the population as a whole and it is not the hallmark of what a great country should be! I can see the whole thing deteriorating. The situation over the remuneration of excellent, experienced and courageous advocates and solicitors is deplorable, it’s a disgrace and it does shame to this country that it has been brought to this.”

War zones

Equally at home in the criminal court and the family court, country and town, he’s been in a few battles on home soil, so how come he ended up in that warzone?

“We were doing an Army case and we had to go to Bosnia and we did the first Court Martial to take place in a theatre of war since the end of WW2. That was the first time I’d gone to court issued with helmet and flak jacket,” he says. “I didn’t think my advocacy was that bad actually!”

He didn’t miss conveyancing then? He laughs: “I’d given up conveyancing by then, far too dangerous!”

Grayling Day

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This article appears this month in the LCCSA magazine The Advocate

The courts are empty of lawyers. At Westminster, Old Palace Yard is overflowing with them. Barristers and solicitors are spilling out into the road. Bemused tourists stop and take pictures of the English men and women, some in wigs and gowns, shouting on a grey Friday morning in March. This is where the action is.

There is poetry. There is jazz. Oh, and there is a massive effigy of Chris Grayling. Indeed, the day is dominated, literally and figuratively, by the odd, unsettling presence of the Lord Chancellor.

On indictment

Greg Foxsmith begins proceedings with an indictment of Grayling for conspiracy to destroy the criminal justice system. The huge pink face of the defendant remains impassive. The witnesses for the prosecution are many.

Paul Harris is passionate: “The justice system is in meltdown! This is about unfettered access to justice. The government is reducing the accountability of the state and increasing power over the individual.” Criticising restrictions on judicial review to challenge unlawful state action, he tears into Grayling for refusing to talk to the National Justice Committee. “We won’t stand by and watch you destroy the criminal justice system,” he tells the defendant. “The Ministry of Justice is not fit for purpose! Justice on the cheap is not justice!” The crowd loudly approves.

From over the road in the Houses of Parliament,  Black Rod asks for the lawyer gang not to make quite so much noise. Black Rod is given some free legal advice. The lawyer gang make more noise. Chris Grayling’s great claw sways in the breeze, insouciantly dismissing the “Grayling Must Go” banners. Maxine Peake is posing for photos in the crowd. “I’m here because I’m filled with dread and fear of what this government is doing to the weak and the dispossessed in this country,” says the actress from the TV drama, Silk.

Chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Nigel Lithman QC, is up. “It takes centuries and much sacrifice for democracies and justice systems to emerge,” he says. “It’s taking this government the blink of an eye to demolish it. We will be left with  one law for the rich and one for the poor! The MoJ is inept!” The evidence is stacking up.

Speech after speech

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Sadiq Khan, takes to the stage. He says Grayling is a woeful mix of blind ambition and wilful ignorance and is the most legally illiterate Lord Chancellor in history. “Chris Grayling believes that the Magna Carta is a bottle of champagne,” he says. “I am with you!” he cries. “We will defeat them!”

Even the Tories are piling in now. Ivan Lawrence QC, 23 years a Conservative MP, says he is ashamed of this government. “I’ve been at the Bar for 50 years and I have never seen a demonstration like this. We will make this government frightened of our resolve. We must make them know if they don’t stop savage cuts they will not be re-elected.” More cheers.

Veteran solicitor Alured Darlington is in the crowd and agrees there’s been nothing like this before in his 51 years of practice. The crowd is getting bigger.

Banners and signs appear. “Keep Calm And Call The Duty Solicitor” says one.

The mother of Gary McKinnon, Janis Sharp, is on the stage. “One day, it could be you needing a lawyer,” she says. “You’ve no idea the relief when a lawyer says they will take your case without asking how much money have you got.”

Now it’s Liberty’s Shami Chakrabarti. “This is Grayling’s day of shame,” she says. “The government are constitutional vandals!” CLSA chair Bill Waddington is scathing too. “It took 800 years to build this system,” he tells Grayling. “Leave it alone!” The swollen head of Chris Grayling looks on, his preternatural smirk undisturbed by the strength of the case against him.

Birmingham Six defendant Paddy Hill is on the attack. “It wasn’t us who caused the financial crisis, it was them and their banker mates,” he yells pointing at Parliament behind him. Now it’s Dave Rowntree. “The government is creating a separate McJustice system for the poor,” he says. Ian Lawrence of NAPO says there must be no privatisation of the probation service. Grayling’s got form he says. “He’s a repeat offender!” he blurts out.

The closing speech is delivered by solicitor Matt Foot, son of journalist Paul Foot and great-grandson of Liberal minister and campaigner for legal rights Isaac Foot. “This is an ideological attack,” he says. “Grayling is picking on the most vulnerable.” He calls for more action. The crowd agree. It’s poetry time. “Rise like lions after slumber!” he exhorts.

On the march

Keep calm and call the duty solicitor

Stirred by Shelley, the crowd are on the move, ready to take the fight to the Ministry of Justice. The defendant is secured and heads the march like a terrifying Pied Piper alongside the golden Lady Justice. The jazz band is up and playing, and with their hypnotic accompaniment, we’re off towards Petty France, the Justice Alliance banner leading the way. We stop off at the Liberal Democrat headquarters to drop off a love letter to Simon Hughes, the justice minister. “Simon Hughes, shame on you!” we yell happily.

The march snakes back along the length of Storey Street, lawyers as far as the eye can see. The throng eventually masses outside the Ministry of Justice. An official is popping out for lunch. “Ooh look! It’s a giant Chris Grayling,” she says to her friend. “Quite flattering actually,” she adds.

There is excitement. What will happen next? (The possible criminal liability of a peaceful occupation of the Ministry of Justice goes through a thousand legal brains simultaneously like an old exam question. “Explain what criminal offences have been committed, if any, making reference to mens rea and actus reus.”)

We settle for some old-fashioned well-mannered chanting. “Legal Aid must stay, Grayling must go!” A cry goes up: “Bring me the massive head of Chris Grayling!”

Lady Justice accompanies Paddy Hill inside to  deliver a letter to the real Chris Grayling, who declines to make an appearance. The press photographers bundle through the double doors. It’s all a squash. The security guards are tolerant until the gigantic effigy of the Lord Chancellor tries to get in too. To the amusement of the MoJ officials, the Lord Chancellor  is barred from entering. Outside, the crowd shout “Grayling Grayling Grayling, out out out!”  “Let him in! Grayling in!” is the cry from inside. Now the immense pink head of Chris Grayling is jammed in the doorway of the Ministry of Justice, a sight few would wish to relive.

Central Hall

The chants continue. As no-one can think of a way of pithily shouting, “They say cutback, we say we are prepared to sit down with you to outline a series of savings that can be found across the criminal justice system,” the crowd disperses to reassemble in the Methodist Central Hall for the LCCSA training afternoon, where president Nicola Hill is pleased with the day so far. “The turnout today has been fantastic. We will gather momentum and I hope Chris Grayling will now man up and stop these cuts.”

As Jon Black introduces the speakers, the glowering figure of the Lord Chancellor stares defiantly back upon the assembled delegates. Unperturbed, Richard Atkinson sets out the full horror of Grayling’s reform. “We are peering into the abyss,” he says. The future? A black void appears on the screen. Richard Furlong of 25 Bedford Row advocates the withdrawal of solicitor’s goodwill from the court system. Richard Bentwood of Argent Chambers sets out the “no returns” policy.

The lawyers on the panel in the afternoon are united. Greg Powell graphically tells us that solicitors will be “nipple to nipple” with barristers in the fight to come. “Grayling has to understand that, when we say something, we mean it,” says Nigel Lithman. Disappointingly, he wasn’t talking about the nipples thing. Bill Waddington says there will be no cracks in unity, a message echoed by Aika Stephenson of Just For Kids and Raj Chada of Hodge Jones and Allen. In January, the courts were closed for half a day. Today, the courts are closed for a full day. To applause, Raj Chada calls for a three-day action next time, and advises Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter to listen to the people in the hall. “Together we will forge unity,” he says.

As people are leaving, Matt Foot surveys the day’s work and is uplifted. “It’s been a wonderful day, there was nowhere left to stand this morning, and the march to the Ministry of Justice filled up the whole road.  Solicitors and barristers are very serious about the fight with Grayling.”

Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy:

Rise like Lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number

Shake your chains to earth like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you

Ye are many – they are few.

 

‘A shameful day in legal history’

‘These newly confirmed cuts are a short-cut to a two-tier system, where justice becomes a luxury not a right. This can’t be right for any defendant, whose liberty, family and livelihood are often at stake.’  Nicola Hill, LCCSA president.

More

Protest:

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Solicitors to join barristers in January walkout

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(Reblogged from Legal Voice)

Thousands of legal aid solicitors across the country will join barristers in a mass walkout on 6 January in protest against the government’s proposed further cuts to legal aid, writes Mary-Rachel McCabe.

The London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association (LCCSA) and Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association (CLSA) announced on Friday that they would be joining criminal barristers on a morning of ‘non-attendance’ in courts, following a vote by criminal defence solicitors from all over England and Wales at a meeting in Birmingham on Thursday.

The vote means that both Crown and magistrates’ courts will be affected by the protest, which will take place on the first working day after the Christmas break.

Read the rest in Legal Voice

LCCSA: The London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association at 65

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It’s early October 2013 in central London. There’s a long queue of criminal defence lawyers snaking down Euston road in the direction of the old Clerkenwell Magistrates Court. The lawyers’ faces have a look of grim determination. A meeting is about to start about the future of Legal Aid, and solicitors and barristers from London and around the country have assembled to deliberate, listen, let off steam. Organising the meeting is the London Criminal Courts Solicitors Association (LCCSA), 65 years old this year.

The LCCSA was founded in 1948, the same year in which whipping and hard labour were removed from the court’s sentencing powers, perhaps to the relief of the thieves and swindlers appearing at that other defunct court house, Bow Street Magistrates Court. The imposing figures of Claude Hornby, Arthur Prothero, Samuel Coleman and a handful of others were worried about the looming Legal Aid Act. Legal Aid was seen by the then small number of lawyers practising in central London courts as a ghastly threat, both to their income and to standards. As former president Jeffrey Gordon put it, “criminal practitioners were worried that Legal Aid would drive out the paying client.” The other aim, he said, was to establish ethical standards “so as to distinguish members from what one might call the more doubtful practitioners.”

Past president of the LCCSA, HHJ Timothy Lawrence, who did his articles at Claude Hornby and Cox, puts it bluntly: “It was for the elite criminal practitioners and they were very jealous as to who they let in.” There was a concern that criminal law was attracting a sleazier, undesirable side of the profession, an impression not aided by the seedy solicitor caught trying to smuggle a raincoat and a false moustache into the Old Bailey for his client to make good his escape. The founder members wanted the Association to confer a hitherto absent status on criminal lawyers. Members also agreed a protocol to allow them to pass work to each other without it being pinched by the unscrupulous. The applications of those who applied to join were analysed thoroughly and proposed members were routinely blackballed. It was considered a great honour to join. One solicitor who was refused membership began high court proceedings to force the Association to let him join. He remained a non-member. Vivien Symons, the first female member of the LCCSA, said in an interview in the Advocate not long before she died that she had been thrilled to be proposed for membership by Claude Hornby. “You’d only be proposed for it if you were a reasonable advocate,” she recalled.

Criminal law in London was then a much smaller world in which a small group of solicitors’ firms undertook much of the criminal defence work, and the LCCSA remained an exclusive, largely West End dominated club. Early presidents included celebrated practitioners of the post war period such as Sir David Napley, J B Wheatley, Victor Lissack, and T V Edwards. Typically solicitors’ offices would be situated right next to court rooms. Claude Hornby and Cox was next to Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Police Court where, long before the Crown Prosecution Service existed, police officers queued up to prosecute their prisoners, giving evidence before a stipendiary magistrate. Timothy Lawrence recalls one such Stipe at Great Marlborough Street who, when called a ‘bald old bastard’ by a departing prisoner, declared to the public gallery, ‘He is quite right on two of those points.’ The charismatic Victor Lissack, known for his love of gold jewellery, had his office next to Bow Street Magistrates’ Court. One time secretary of the Association HHJ Steven Dawson trained with the firm and, in the days before the duty solicitor scheme, he says, the court would ring the solicitors next door to say there was a prisoner in the cells and could the firm send someone over to represent them. Those were simpler times.

Working dinners dominated the Association’s calendar. Steven Dawson recalls that the annual dinner was initially a chance for solicitors to entertain the grand old stipendiary magistrates, usually barristers some of whom had been sitting since before the war. ‘Solicitors, particularly those in crime, were thought to be a little below stairs, and this was a chance to raise their profile,’ he says. Sandra Dawson, who has been on the LCCSA committee for 25 years, recalls that when she started there were about three hundred members. In those days before computers, members’ details were kept on index cards and communication with members was a laborious task. She has seen enormous changes, she says. “The Association was far more social back then,” she recalls. “There were some working dinners, but there was no training, and the membership was quite exclusive.” That began to change significantly. The first woman president was District Judge Sue Green followed in the next few years by June Venters QC, Angela Campbell and Linda Woolley. The old boys’ club was coming to an end. Training was begun in earnest by Julia Holman and has expanded enormously – members now routinely click onto the Association’s webinars for their CPD points. Membership grew and became much more diverse, and in time there were more than 1000 members.

As membership grew so did the annual dinner. Held at various swanky hotels including the Savoy and the Dorchester, the annual dinner grew in size – when one time president Mark Haslam of Burton Copeland spoke at the dinner there were 1200 people there – and it was on occasion a notoriously noisy and drunken affair. Mark Haslam was also instrumental in establishing the Association’s European Conferences in the 1980s and he holds at least one proud record. “I have the dubious honour of being the only member to have attended each and every one of the trips,” he says. The most interesting trip, he says, was the one to Berlin before the wall came down. The most memorable? “Anyone who went to Dublin will instantly remember a pub called the Johnny Fox; that is if anything remains of their recollection!” European conferences remain an important and much needed opportunity to spend time with fellow professionals to talk about law and much besides.

Communication with members changed too. The dry newsletter sent to members had typically been a densely typed reproduction of the Association’s minutes and responses to new legislation. In 1995 the LCCSA magazine, The Advocate, appeared and immediately became an important source of news, views, information and guidance, binding London solicitors in its unflagging spirit of comradeship. Early editions reveal anxiety about some familiar issues. In the very first edition of The Advocate the magazine reports on the Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay’s plans for legal aid reforms and competitive tendering. In issue number 3 in March 1996 there was concern about the drop in the amount of work in Magistrates’ courts. The July 1999 edition carries an article by future president Rob Brown about cuts to legal aid and the importance of retaining ‘solicitor of choice’. The article is headlined ‘The Value of Justice’. Other back copies are a gallop through such reforms as Carter, the Auld report, Narey courts, block contracting and fixed fees, and reveal that even as consultations, Home Secretaries and Lord Chancellors came and went, the Advocate remained a reassuring and entertaining constant.

There were earlier indications of the prominent campaigning role the LCCSA would in time assume. Already by the 1970s the Association was being consulted by the Home Office on legislation and fees, regularly responded to consultations and worked with the Law Society Criminal Law Committee. In 1979 the LCCSA submitted evidence to the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice. The Association now wielded some clout with legislators. The LCCSA’s role was changing.

Campaigning became an important part of the work of the LCCSA. The Association responds to the stream of consultations and is represented on significant groups and bodies within the criminal justice system, influencing and shaping policy. Greg Powell, another past president, says that in some ways events forced the LCCSA to change character and become what it is today. “There has been such an enormous change in the last 10 to 15 years.” he says. “There was no longer a convivial inside track in which representatives from the LCCSA could negotiate. The changes have been so large and severe that the government didn’t want to work that way any more. The LCCSA had to become a more campaigning organisation, with the ability to present evidence and organise mass responses to consultations.” He pays tribute too to past presidents Rob Brown and June Venters who vigorously resisted the Carter reforms, the market and tendering proposals which were the wellspring of consolidation plans that remain today.

The present day committee is strengthened by the experienced presence of past presidents like Greg Powell, Paul Harris and Raymond Shaw. Paul Harris says it was exciting and a great honour to be president. “I think our great achievement has been in becoming an effective campaigning and lobbying organisation and in becoming highly regarded by other agencies in the criminal justice system,” he says. “The trick is to balance the interests of our diverse membership of owners, employees, freelancers, CPS lawyers and the rest. I am proud of our reputation and of remaining important to our membership.”

Greg Powell agrees. “The modern LCCSA has succeeded in being thought of as of value to members, resisting PCT, defending collective interests, mobilising members, and being able to help shape events.”

The organisation has evolved and changed out of all recognition. Where once the LCCSA was a cosy, closed, inward looking club for respectable middle class solicitors worried about the menace of Legal Aid, the Association is now an effective, inclusive pressure group, campaigning against successive governments’ assaults on the same Legal Aid system.

The exclusive London club doesn’t exist any more. What has replaced it is on view at that October Legal Aid meeting. Solicitors and lawyers from scattered parts of London, from big firms and small, sole practitioners, self-employed advocates and prosecutors as well as associate and honorary members, are taking their seats. The LCCSA represents them all. The debate is vigorous, serious, angry, important. Sixty five years on the LCCSA has grown up. Not retiring, just getting started.

 

This article first appeared in the London Advocate Magazine

Justice: Closing Down Sale – Everyone must go!

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The campaign against proposed Legal Aid cuts and reforms continues.

Solicitors, Barristers, Chartered Legal Executives and everyone involved in the field of criminal law are invited to a meeting to discuss the MoJ’s latest consultation “Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps”.

October 1st 2013 at 18:15 Camden Centre (opposite St Pancras Station).

Panel Speakers Include:- 
Des Hudson – The Law Society
Greg Powell – LCCSA
Bill Waddington – CLSA
Nigel Lithman QC – CBA
Carol Storer OBE – LAPG

Get your tickets at the LCCSA website.