Tag Archives: barristers

The Four Retired Judges Sketch

With profuse apologies to Monty Python for this shameless hijacking of the Four Yorkshiremen Sketch. Please note that the Judges in this sketch are not from any particular county. I should also apologise to the many completely enlightened members of the modern Judiciary and practitioners at the senior end of both professions. Let us not slip back to old ways. The views expressed in this are not my views, nor are they meant to represent the views of any living person. This is one of my hamfisted attempts at satire, designed to show why the Bar and the Judiciary should not be complacent about diversity. If you find that the views expressed correspond with your own or one of the characters reminds you of yourself then that is entirely a coincidence and I apologise. That apology would not be to you but on your behalf…..

Four Judges sit together at the end of a convivial evening in the Old Bailey, a retirement home for the Judiciary in Eastbourne. Heavy crystal glasses are gripped in ageing hands. 

Judge This QC: Ahhh….very passable, this, very passable.

Judge That: Nothing like a good glass of Chateau de Chassilier wine, hey Gideon?

Judge Them: You’re right there Jocelyn.

Judge Yourself QC: Who would have thought thirty years ago we’d all be sitting here drinking Chateau de Chassillier wine, all of us former “Top Judges”……

Judge This QC: Aye, in them days it were only our fathers who were the Judges.

Judge That: Not top Judges mind…..

Judge Them: No, no. Not top Judges, remember that Maximillian’s father was only a District Registrar….

Judge Yourself QC: That’s right Gideon, but it’s never held me back, never held me back. And of course so unlike your father who was, I believe, described by the News of the World as a “Top Judge”

Judge This QC: Aye “Top Judge in Drink Drive and GoGo Dancer” scandal…..

Judge That:  As I recall it “Top Judge in Russian Spy GoGo Dancer” scandal…..

Judge Them: Yes, yes. And as you all know, he was cleared by the top man at the Ministry.

Judge Yourself QC: Ah yes, the report by Bernard Howe-Relates.

Judge This QC: Top fellow was Bernard.

Judge That: That’s right Peregrine, dear Bernie was a top fellow and wonderful cricketer, used to play with my father in the Old Garfordians…..

Judge Them: Yes, dear old Bernie, or Uncle Bumblepot as I used to affectionately call my Godfather….

Judge Yourself QC: Now when we started out it was hard to make your way.

Judge This QC: That’s right. Hard to make your way with so much to live up to.

Judge That: Nothing like the pressure to achieve more than your father.

Judge Them: Certainly not when you father was head of chambers….

Judge Yourself QC: And his father before him…..

Judge This QC: As your pupilmaster was always reminding you…..

Judge That: Ah yes, mine always said to me “Jocelyn” he would say “I always knew from our days rooming together at Haserthwicke College that your father was going places”…..

Judge Them: My pupil master constantly reminded me that he only let my father marry his sister because he could tell he was cut out for the job……

Judge Yourself QC:  But it wasn’t just the family pressure….

Judge This QC: No, it certainly was not. On my first day in chambers my father’s clerk pointed out to me that every chap from my college who had joined chambers had taken Silk….

Judge That: Mine said every fellow from my college had taken Silk and gone on the Bench….

Judge Them: The High Court Bench….

Judge Yourself QC: My clerk said everyone from my college and my school was in the Court of Appeal…..

Judge This QC: My Clerk told me you could put together a passable Old Boys Rugger XV from Attorneys-General that had been to my alma mater and reasonable Second XV from their fags who went on to be Solictor-General….

Judge That: On my first day in pupillage the clerk told me that there was a seven man House of Lords giving judgement that day who had all gone to my prep school…..

Judge Them: Now that’s pressure…..

Judge Yourself QC: Oh yes. Tell that to your average boy from a Secondary Modern and he wouldn’t recognise such pressure…..

Judge This QC: And then the slog to get work once you were in.

Judge That: Oh yes, you couldn’t rely on your LinkedIn profile…

Judge Them: Absolutely. Nor could you just sit there and await instructions from solicitors who went to the same college as you.

Judge Yourself QC: Exactly. Chaps from my college didn’t go into trade…..

Judge This QC: Precisely. It was endless hours on the golf course…

Judge That: Yes, and it didn’t stop on the course, in the Clubhouse too.

Judge Them: Half a pale ale with the Senior Partner of a firm….

Judge Yourself QC: Now those were the hard yards the youngsters of today don’t see.

Judge This QC: That’s why you did not see many lady Judges of our vintage….

Judge That: They couldn’t be in the clubhouse and in the kitchen making supper.

Judge Them: And those hips. The female hips are not conducive to a good golf swing….

Judge Yourself QC: …..not conducive……

Judge This QC: …..and anyway, lasses taking up pupillage was a waste of thirty Guineas…..

Judge That: A real waste.

Judge Them: Why waste thirty guineas on a pupillage when you were only going to pop off and have some babies within a few years?

Judge Yourself QC: Much better to spend it on a new dress or some pretty shoes!

Judge This QC: Wise words, Peregrine, wise words.

Judge That: And the Courtroom and the Robing Rooms, well, they are like the trenches, no place for a lady.

 Judge Them: No, I wouldn’t want a daughter of mine to see or hear the things that go on.

 Judge Yourself QC: In that situation men can only cope by being more of a man…

 Judge This QC: Aye, it’s the heat of the battle……

Judge That: …..the eye of the storm….

Judge Them: ……no place for shrinking violets……

Judge Yourself QC: …….or sensitive souls.

Judge This QC: If the occasional rum thing gets said, it’s a coping mechanism…

 Judge That: …..gallows humour…..

Judge Them: Nothing more than letting off steam…..

Judge Yourself QC: Like the Rugger changing room, no place for the fairer sex.

Judge This QC: Absolutely, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…..

Judge That: …..popping back to the kitchen…..

Judge Them:
…..the real kitchen rather than the metaphorical kitchen…..

Judge Yourself QC: ….. and leave the job to the right sort.

Judge This QC: Try telling that to the young people of today and they will not listen, they will not listen. It’s all “don’t be so all un-PC”…..

Judge That: It’s not un-PC if it’s true…..

 Judge Them: Look at the Lord Chancellor, no longer needs to be a lawyer but has always been a man.

 Judge Yourself QC: And a man that went to the right sort of university at that….shows what’s important, shows what’s important.

 All: Yes, yes.

Yes or No

I invited anyone who wished to contribute to the debate to email their blog to me and I would be happy to host. Kent solicitor Oliver Kirk has done just that. Here is his contribution. 

A response to Mr Myerson QCs response to Mr Csoka QC

I am writing this brief response, I hope to clear up what some see as ambiguities or inconsistencies in the position of solicitors, and to help those who may still be undecided in their decision on the current ballot.

In case it is not abundantly clear- many solicitors firms are currently in a precarious state: their futures uncertain awaiting the outcome not only of the current action- but also of their LAA bids- or indeed for the fall-out from their failure to bid. All are united in their uncertainty as to whether the new, significantly lower rates can possibly be financially viable. (My own view is that they are not.)

Why don’t solicitors withdraw their bids?

The LAA is the principal provider of work. The only show in town. So, if a firm either fails to bid- or withdraws a bid, then it is then condemned to rely only on private and own client work. In the case of most firms large enough to bid, those two sources of work are simply not a viable option.

Own client contracts are, by their very nature wasting assets- criminal clients often find themselves in custody for lengthy periods have difficult personal circumstances, which result in tragically early deaths, and of course some reform or were never guilty in the first place- all of which mean that repeat business cannot be relied upon. Furthermore, clients, as well as being fiercely loyal, can also be a perfidious bunch, meaning that it is never really possible to count upon return business. An own client contract alone may only provide an unstable and unpredictable revenue stream over any significant period of time. Unsurprisingly, most firms need the new blood of duty cases to refresh their client base.

Why not withdraw a bid to do economically unviable work? Once your bid is withdrawn- that is “Game Over”; if some form of improved deal is put on the table in due course- you won’t be part of it. If some firms withdraw their bids, and others do not, those who have withdrawn make their own situations worse, not better. Think of it in these terms as well: most owners of firms will have made significant personal investments in their businesses. The buck also stops with them if the business fails- their homes, and any other assets are quite likely to be tied up by way of personal guarantees to banks. It would therefore be personally and professionally reckless in the extreme to withdraw a bid in the hope that a better deal might emerge that the firm could be part of.

Bidding and getting a contract therefore becomes the only possible way of surviving- in a sort of “gruel tomorrow” pact that allows a firm so stumble on in the hope of staving off insolvency for a little longer. The alternative of withdrawing a bid would, for many firms mean the prospect of having to make significant redundancies at time when it is unlikely that the funds are available to pay even those.

Please consider also that many of the bidders may be consortia of smaller firms and sole practitioners, who have already invested many, many hours putting a bid together. To withdraw such a bid now after making such investments of time when to do so might be curtains for the firms involved is a gamble too far . This is especially so, when you consider how effective the current action appears to be in its early days in getting the MOJ to think again.

No-one should be under any illusions- the current rates of pay do not incentivise work. They do not encourage a “no stone unturned” approach to a clients’ case. They encourage the opposite. Equally, the current rates of pay are such that solicitors have been forced out of the lower courts into the Crown Court as a means of remaining in business.

If reduced rates and DC come in, various things will almost certainly happen:

1) A significant number of small “High Street” firms will pull out of Criminal Legal Aid altogether whether as a commercial decision or because they do not get a contract. Many such firms or departments are operating on such tight margins that the July cuts followed by the January 2016 cuts will finish them off before the MOJ even start their “2016 Review of legal aid rates”.

2) Other (probably smaller) firms who do not get duty contracts will soldier on with own client contracts- but with diminishing volumes and cuts to remuneration, will probably go under. I pause to ask myself whether it is these same firms who currently instruct the Bar?

Of course they are! These are the firms who instruct the junior Bar on a daily basis, whether to do their Magistrates Court trials or their Crown Court cases; the same firms who once discovered and instructed those who now lead the Bar. Those firms will wither and die.

3) Those larger firms who do get contracts undoubtedly keep as much advocacy in-house as possible. They will recruit from the ranks of an underemployed Bar who will be wondering where their instructions have gone….

So- when asking yourself Mr Myerson’s questions and deciding how to vote, please remember that if you are currently briefed by a solicitor- that firm may not be around for long to brief you if it has not applied for or does not get “awarded” a contract. As for those who apply for and get a contract the margins will be such that they will have to try to keep all their work in-house.

This is the Bars decision.

This is the Bars vote.

Make no mistake, this is for Our future.

 

 

 

 

Two Tribes

The last two years have been remarkable. There was much talk from the MoJ of Transforming this and Transforming that with next steps and all that jazz. It has certainly transformed my professional life from one where I went about my everyday business, meeting clients, irritating Judges and wondering when the next brief would land. A professional life where I thought the robing room at Minshull Street was my patch. A piece of the court building forever for the advocates. 

Now I spend my holiday scouring Twitter and absorbing emails to try to ascertain the latest development. I wake in the morning with a thought to write something comparing the Lord Chancellor to Dr Who or Game of Thrones or something even more ridiculous, like the last Lord Chancellor. Hoping that a gentle dig in the ribs from my iPad will suddenly make everything okay again. 

But it never does. 

So here we are, like the drug addicted client, standing at yet another crossroads. Which way should we go?

And whilst the Bar has two choices to make – take the path of engagement and try to secure a legal landscape which would be fertile ground for our strengths to prosper or the path of taking action to stop the Government grinding us down to no more than mouthpieces for an imitation of a free and fair society – these two choices do not a war make.

We are not at war with each other. 

This is not “Hotheads v Appeasers”. It is not “The Must Do Somethings v The Don’t Do Anythings”. It is not “The Rash” scrapping it out with “The Wise”. It is not even “The Brave” against “The Scabs”. Dare I whisper it? Well, it ain’t “The Noisy Minority” trying to stick it to “The Silent Majority”. It is a body of professionals who face some very real difficulties trying to come up with some very real answers. 

Acuusations fly around. From both camps about the other. “He is just a leftwing hothead, hellbent on fighting the Government, any Government,” is often just as daft as “She is just a non-boat-rocking conservative with one foot already in the pension”. Yes there may be elements of truth in some individuals and their motives but the truth is people advocate for one way or the other because they have analysed the situation and believe it to be the best way. That is to be respected and acknowledged. 

No one should look down at those that hold a different view. Those views need airing to assist those who have yet to come to a view to reach their decision. When we had the vote over “the deal” the CBA hosted a blog for the arguments to be raised by proponents of both sides. It is a shame the same is not being done now. In fact it is such a shame that I’ll offer to host it. Anyone who wants their say should feel free to email me at jaimerh@aol.com and I will post your blog for you. 

Any regular reader will know that I favour taking direct action now. I favour it for many reasons. I hope in favouring it I set out my reasons for doing so. Whilst I am not courteous to or about the politicians, and may even tread on a few judicial toes, I like to think I am always courteous and reasonable about differently held views. 

I repeat, this it not two tribes going to war, but one tribe who both want the tribe to survive. We just have different ways of going about it. 

Ultimately we both may be right. Both approaches may have the chance to succeed. The biggest fear I have is that if the engagement route is taken and fails, it will be too late to save us. Our fate will be sealed and that is a fate none of us want. 

No matter what, this is you and me against the damage being caused to the criminal justice system. 

This is My Decision

So the CBA have announced their ballot. If you are eligible to vote I urge you to do so as soon as possible. The vote is available here. It is absolutely vital that you vote and have your say, either way. 

There has been some consternation about the fact that the ballot has a closing date two weeks away. I can understand some frustration with this. Of course if lots and lots of people vote very quickly the period may be foreshortened. 

I pause for a moment to observe you should be careful what you wish for. Many of us wanted a ballot. We have got a ballot. Impatience expressed with intemperance may not be the best way to persuade. Herding cats is a difficult task to manage. The CLSA  and the LCCSA know that only too well. They have been corralling felines for months and months. I know that time is of the essence, however sometimes patience is rewarded. 

The question in the ballot does start off with one tiny mistake. The opening line is “solicitors face an 8.75% cut to litigators fees.” The mistake is not in the missing apostrophe or an extra “s”. Only an arse would point that out. Actually it is two mistakes. The first is that the cut is not only in respect of litigator fees. Or litigator’s fees. It is in respect of lots of fees. Like the ridiculously low fee for police station visits. The second error is that it is an additional 8.75% on top of the cut already suffered. And is in advance of a further cut due in January. Oh and is also being introduced before the consolidation has taken place that the Government recognises has to take place to avoid total market failure. 

But the important thing is the vote is asking you to support the action taken by solicitors up and down the country as of today. The same battle we fought recently. 

For many days now I have been giving the whole thing lots and lots of thought. Contrary to public opinion, I do think about these sort of things. And I am increasingly coming round to the view that I truly have an individual decision to make. The decision I make right now is irrespective of the view taken by my chambers, my Circuit or the CBA. It is not a protest.

When I did not attend court on the days of action I was not reported to the BSB by my instructing solicitor. When I participated in no returns, my instructing solicitors understood and were supportive. Furthermore I was really, really, really, REALLY (I think I may have enough emphasis now to get across the fact that I mean this) but I was REALLY pissed off when I thought that action was being undermined by people who took returns. 

And if I took a case that had a Representation Order after 1st July I would be exactly the person that I felt let me down so badly last time round. And, in all conscience, I cannot do that. 

So from now until the result of the CBA ballot is known, I am not available for new defence work with a Representation Order dated 1st July onwards. Until such time as we join with the protest I will not undermine the protest of my friends, colleagues and allies. If I miss out on a fortnight of new briefs, so be it. If others profit from my stance so be it. 

Once I started to think about it, the answer was obvious. I wonder how many agree with me? Perhaps you could comment below if you do. It’s not a ballot. More of an informal survey. But a survey that may reassure those who today took the first step in standing together in the same way the Bar did. 

Good luck. 

When is a Vote not a Vote?

Last night a group of barristers had a monumental decision to make. I refer not to the CBA but to myself, Mrs VFTN and our friends, all of us criminal barristers. We had to choose accommodation for our holiday. We had a number of options. We discussed the pros and cons. We then had a vote. We adopted a preferential voting system and all agreed to be bound by the result. And hey presto! A decision was reached. 

At about the same time the CBA Exec met. The result of that meeting is captured in a message which you can read here. The upshot is that the current CBA position is that they will not be calling for any direct action from the Bar at the present moment in time and they believe work can be done with the Government that puts the Bar, and the public, in a good position. 

I say “hmmmmmmm”.

I actually said a lot more. But “hmmmmmmm” sums it up in a way that seems more reasonable and even handed (and slightly less David Cameron down with the kids) than “WTF!”

For the time being I am going to leave to one side what “hmmmmm” says about the wisdom of putting all our eggs into the wisdom basket of the MoJ. I don’t necessarily blame my baldness on being patted on the head by wise and cool coves who tell me that the news from the Ministry is encouraging but it has happened often enough for it to be a contributory factor. And it has certainly happened more often than the actions of the Ministry being encouraging. 

No, my “hmmmmm” is mainly expressed as a surprise at what it says about democracy. I am a real stickler for it. That was why, despite my personal opposition to “the deal”, once the membership had voted that was the end of that episode. 

So I am little confused. You see back in May the Bar were asked this question;

Would you support action, ‘No returns’ and ‘Days of Action’ if the new government decides to proceed with the Duty Provider Scheme, reducing the number of solicitor providers by at least two thirds? 

The response was overwhelmingly in favour. You will note that the question was not predicated on the positions adopted by solicitors. This was the Bar’s response to Dual Contracts and the threat it posed to us. And our willingness to take action to change proposals that we viewed as damaging to the Bar. Not “will you strike if they strike?”. 

The response was communicated to the world in a press release which included these words;

“The Criminal Bar Association has conducted a survey of its members in order to gauge better the depth of concern amongst the profession about the Government’s proposals for the Dual Provider Scheme. The response for such a survey was unprecedented and 96% of those who responded have urged the CBA to take action to press the Government to think again. 

I make, if I may, three observations. The first is this – the Government must really quake in their boots now at the thought of the power of the Criminal Bar. We roar like lions and act like mice. The second is this – I do not see in today’s message the route that we have travelled from the membership urging the CBA to take action to the exec ignoring their urgings. The third is this – hmmmmmm.

When is a democratic decision not a decision? Well I guess the answer is when a vote is a survey. 

So I am not going to worry my pretty little bald head over such things as my future, the future of the professions and the future of the Justice system. I am going to leave it to those who know best and the man who wreaked havoc in Education. 

So this morning I have booked the villa. When I say “the villa”, I in fact mean the villa I wanted to go to. Yes that wasn’t the villa we chose last night, but that was only a “survey”. And what are my friends going to do about it? Not be my friend any more? Who needs friends anyway, when you have a lovely big empty villa to enjoy all on your own?

You’ve Been Shamed

From time to time I have shared with you the minor disasters and irritations of my professional life. This has been cheaper than therapy. Probably not as effective, but cheaper. And I hope that my moans and gripes have illustrated to the uninitiated that the Criminal Justice System operates about as effectively as Natalie Bennet when she is full of a cold. 

The daily occurrences of incompetence, ineptitude and inadequacy are such features of, well, daily life that I am now letting them pass by without comment. So I have neglected to tell you about the Prison Officer who appeared over the videolink and candidly announced “We will probably run late with the links today, we are short of staff. Don’t blame me, blame the Government.”  Which was fair enough. 

On the subject of videolinks, I was remiss in not telling you of the videolink which commenced with the clerk asking for the defendant to be brought into the booth. So we awaited his arrival. And waited. And waited. A good ten minutes. Counsel, court staff and Judge, looking at a TV screen showing a chair in front of a curtain. Eventually an officer re-entered the booth. 

“There is a delay,” she announced. Which came as no shock to those of us who had been sitting there for the aforementioned ten minutes. 

“We can’t find him.” Which did come as a surprise to everyone as he was in prison, and as a particular surprise to defence counsel who had spoken to him moments earlier in the conference booth. 

Nor did I tell you about the case that was listed for videolink where the prison mistakenly put the defendant on the van instead. And the cells sent him back to prison because his PCMH was listed by videolink. Which he did not get back to the prison in time for.  On the bright side, at least they knew where he was. Most of the time. 

I shouldn’t just pick on custody cases and videolinks. There was the interpreter who had to be prompted to interpret. Every time. Or the interpreter that refused to assist in communicating with the defendant outside of court. Even when invited to by the Judge. 

But I haven’t mentioned any of these because they have become such the norm of life in the courts that they barely register. All of the instances mentioned above have happened in the last two weeks. Including two Bank Holidays. And a day out of court. So that was seven days worth of cock-ups at court. I should mention that I have only picked the best ones. 

One case has been such a catalogue of errors that I would not know where to even begin. That is a whole blog on its own. If I can ever bring myself to tell you about it. 

I have been moved to put pen to paper once more…..or fingers to iPad….no, that sounds wrong. I have been moved to write (that’s better) about these cock-ups again because my two week trial, that was listed for Monday 13th April in August of last year has been pulled from the list on the Friday before. Despite the fact that I know another trial, listed for at least a week and due to start on Monday as well, was resolved this week. So that’s two trials they could not accommodate. Actually make that four trials as I know of two others that have been pulled. Whilst three courtrooms sit empty in the building. 

It’s alright though. The offences only date back to 2009. It is only the second trial date. There are only six complainants waiting for their cases to be tried. (I am leaving to one side the dirty great big hole in my diary, although if any of you solicitors out there have any easy, private payers just knocking around over the next fortnight, you know where to find me….)

So the cock-ups are funny. Funny in a “if you didn’t laugh, you’d cry” kind of way. But they are symptomatic of a system that is just not working. It isn’t at breaking point. It’s broken. 

There has been lots of talk in the last couple of years of excellence versus competence. Of quality versus efficiency. Right now, I’d settle for “barely functioning”. It would represent a step forward. 

Fifteen Shades of Grayling

I have been sent this and, as usual, am happy to post this to my blog. As far as Fifty Shades of Grey is concerned I am not, surprise, surprise, much of an aficionado. However they have been times when I have felt like I have become a little obsessed with Grayling. Which is odd because, before he became Lord Chancellor, he had never hoved into my political viewpoint. But ever since he was foist upon the lawyers it has been like the worst of blind dates. As we near the solicitors’ moment of truth on Wednesday, anyone who has a heart would want to see Chris Grayling come a cropper. If the Court of Appeal does not do it then we have to hope the electorate do.

This piece is posted anonymously. Clearly the author does not wish you to know, given what it’s all about, that they are fans of this genre…..

Christian Grey and Chris Grayling have more in common than just the similarities of their name. Both are controlling risk takers with little regard for consequences. Fifty Shades of Grey is a twisted love story that leaves viewers slightly uncomfortable at the relationship between Christian and Anastasia. In much the same way the relationship that exists between The Lord Chancellor and criminal legal aid lawyers is one that has been uncomfortable to observe for the last two years.

Fifty Shades tells the story of Christian Grey a powerful and domineering business man who takes advantage of others. In the same way Chris Grayling, a man who should feel passionate about protecting the rule of law has a controlling and tortuous attitude towards legal aid lawyers.

Like Grey, Grayling is a man who finds it difficult to engage. Grayling will say he has “listened to lawyers”. What he doesn’t understand is that sitting in a room on the pretence of listening is not engaging. Grayling has no real relationship with criminal legal aid lawyers. He struggles to deal with them because he can’t control them.

Grayling is a man intent on inflicting unnecessary suffering, just like Grey. Grayling has had his savings and more. He’s been told his plans won’t work. He’s been told why they won’t work. Will he listen? No. Will he change his mind? No. He must now understand the suffering that will follow two tier, he’s been told often enough. He must understand that there are alternatives, he’s been told often enough.

Christian Grey is a man who thrives on taking risks without having regard to the consequences. Chris Grayling? You guessed it, he’s much the same. The two tier proposals can’t be tested and there is every indication that they will cause a collapse to the market but Grayling isn’t interested. He wants to make his mark, he wants his own way. He’s been given every opportunity to do things differently and to minimise the risk. He won’t. Once firms collapse they have gone for good. The desperate ones who bid might succeed in limping on for a year through two tier, they might have enough money in the bank to see them through. Their money won’t last forever. The volume of work isn’t guaranteed but their increase in overheads is. The big cases aren’t guaranteed but the second 8.75% cut is. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that it will be an unsustainable market. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that firms can’t operate with a 1% profit. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that firms can’t operate without a profit.

The twist to the plot of Fifty Shades is the role reversal, the fact that Christian Grey is actually a victim. In much the same way for as long as Grayling continues to bulldoze on with his ill-conceived plans he too will become the victim… Well maybe not him directly because by the time the damage is done Grayling will be long gone in a post elsewhere leaving someone else to pick up the pieces. The real victims of course are the justice system, the victims of crime and those too vulnerable to defend themselves. The real victims are the public.

Unfortunately for legal aid and the justice system Chris Grayling, just like Christian Grey is a savvy business man. Every time there is a story about the legal aid campaign about to hit the press Grayling calls up a favour from his old media contacts. He clicks his fingers and as if by magic stories appear about convicted criminals abusing the legal aid system and wasting thousands of pounds of tax payers money. No one gets to read about how legal aid prevented a victim from having to give evidence or helped get a mentally ill person the treatment that they needed. The public have been blindsided into thinking that they shouldn’t care, into thinking that legal aid doesn’t concern them. They think it’s a waste that should be stopped and all because they trust what Grayling says.

With a general election coming up Chris Grayling is one of the biggest reasons for wanting the Conservatives out of power because a bit like Christian Grey, he is a dangerous man to fall for.

There is a moral to this story and it’s this; unlike Anastasia legal aid lawyers refuse to be the submissive. Unlike Anastasia legal aid lawyers are not prepared to allow Grayling to be the dominant. Just like Anastasia legal aid lawyers have a “safe word”. Just like Anastasia that safe word is “red” but in our case the safe word means Labour and unlike Anastasia we are prepared to use it.