April 12th, 2010

Of double whammys

Posted in The Job - General by 200

Clearly, for the last 31 years I have completely misunderstood the Legal Aid system. I was under the impression that it provided financial assistance to those charged with offences in the court who couldn’t afford to defend themselves.

I had no idea it was so defendants who earn three times the national average wage as a minimum, plus who get a substantial expenses package which allows them to have a free house, courtesy of the taxpayer & earn all the profits on that house, and all sorts of other little wheezes by which they get extra cash.

MPs Elloit Morley, David Chaytor & Jim Devine have just been granted legal aid to defend themselves over charges that they ripped off the public with false mortgage, rent & expence claims. If you thought the bottom of the barrel had been well & truly scraped when their ‘nosein the trough’ scandal broke last year, think again. These paragons of parliamentary advantage are currently trying to weedle out of any prosecution at all, claiming the right of Parliamentary Privilege from  sixteen hundred & dumpdy-doo, but shold they fail to avoid prosecution it will be you & me footing the bill. So we paid for their greed in the first place, they got caught out & we have to pay all over again so they can defend themselves.

Some estimates areputting the potential trial costs at some £3 million.

It really just confirms that the very laudible aims of the Legal Aid system is open to abuse from both ends of the scale, while thousands of people with genuine claim to financial assistance to support their legal cases have to go & whistle.

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10 comments

  1. shijuro says:

    Sounds like a ploy to try to stop the trial… they must think they are going to loose then.

    Agreed.

    Mind now firmly made up about who to vote for…

    April 13th, 2010 at 10:13

  2. Zac Smith says:

    200

    I don’t think your argument holds water. How are they supposed to pay costs of £3m even if their salaries and expenses total £200,000?

    In my opinion it is unreasonable to make criminal defendants pay for their own costs at all until convicted. Legal costs, forensic and expert witness costs are so outrageous now that a defendant might simply be forced to take a prison sentence rather than risk total bankrupcy and prison even if they are innocent.

    April 13th, 2010 at 10:31

  3. Fee says:

    Of course, they could just do the honourable thing and plead guilty? Remember the days when a politician caught doing somethng naughty was expected to fall on his sword? Make a few blustering remarks about taking time out to watch the kids/grass/sheep grow, then bugger off into the distance?

    I liked those days better. Meanwhile, back in the real world, they’ll wriggle and squirm to the very end to avoid punishment.

    April 13th, 2010 at 13:23

  4. 200 says:

    Zac,

    I fear it’s your argument that doesn’t hold water. The £3million estimate is the total cost of the trial. Most of that will be in preparing the prosecution case.

    The defendant pays their own defence costs (sometimes), not ALL costs. And if the judge thinks they had no case to answer he can direct that the prosecution pay ALL costs.

    April 13th, 2010 at 15:11

  5. shijuro says:

    Well not to rain on your parade Zac- but…

    Everyone is entitled to free legal advise anyway… The reason it costs for them is they want their own barrister- and that costs mega… especially the barristers they will be hiring.

    Two tier justice?

    April 13th, 2010 at 15:13

  6. Tony F says:

    FFS.

    April 13th, 2010 at 19:20

  7. Plodnomore says:

    A statement from the Minister of (In)Justice, Jack Straw, mentioned that it was simply coincidence that the trial was being heard in Southwark where the Legal Aid system had not been centralised with the rest of the country (!). Of course, it would not have anything to do with the fact that the three (alleged) crooks are all members of the same political party as the said Minister, would it? After years of blagging expenses from the general public they now want that same public to pay their defence costs. If they are so sure of their innocence, they should do what the ordinary people (who can’t get legal aid) do. Mortgage their houses, sell their kids into slavery and then claim the costs back when they win their case. However, it is politicians we are talking about. It’s interesting to note that the other defendant (a Tory) is not applying for legal aid – at least he has some form of honour.

    April 13th, 2010 at 20:52

  8. Zac Smith says:

    200

    The figure isn’t that important – where are you supposed to find £1.5m – or even split 3 ways £500,000? If I asked you to find 5 times your post-tax income while simultaneously getting thrown out of your job with a front-page reputation for theft, could you find that sort of cash?

    April 14th, 2010 at 09:16

  9. Shijuro says:

    Zac- you aren’t listening- EVERYONE is entitled and gets FREE legal representation!

    The MPs don’t want that- they want their own!!!

    Why shouldn’t they pay for it?

    When I took my ex to court because she stopped contact with my sons – I didn’t get a penny of legal aid – I earned too much!!!!

    It cost me £30,000 in fees (still paying it off) …

    Why are they different?

    April 14th, 2010 at 09:24

  10. 200 says:

    Zac,

    what he said.

    April 14th, 2010 at 16:05

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