Grayling to review legal aid as response to Abu Hamza

An ‘immediate examination’ of the legal aid system has been ordered by the new Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. ‘I am concerned about public confidence in the legal aid system,’ Grayling said. ‘I have ordered an immediate examination of aspects of the system that affect its credibility with the public. Legal aid is a fundamental part of our legal system, but resources aren’t limitless. It should be reserved for cases where there is genuine need.’

His comments came following reports that the case relating to terror suspect Abu Hamza al-Masri cost nearly £1m. Grayling said people should ‘never lose sight’ that legal aid was ‘paid for by the taxpayer’. According to the Daily Mail the total legal bill of ‘the hook-handed extremist’ (as the Mail put it) cost £909,423.70.

‘Freedom of information requests by the Mail reveal that Hamza’s lawyers were paid £445,452.65 to defend him against charges of inciting terrorism. Legal costs in his eight-year fight against extradition cost a total of £165,460.81. Hamza was also given legal aid worth £68,107.33 to fight attempts by the Home Office to remove his passport, a case he won. The total expenditure included more than £400,000 for Hamza’s solicitors, Arani and Co, and more than £100,000 for one of his barristers, Edward Fitzgerald QC. The Home Office spent £79,728 on legal costs for the extradition case, and another £150,674.91 in its efforts to strip Hamza of his passport.’

The ‘cost of booting out this vile hate preacher’ was tremendous, said Robert Oxley, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. ‘Taxpayers appear to have been the last ones in anyone’s thoughts during Hamza’s drawn-out but ultimately futile legal fight.’

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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  1. Pingback: The Justice Gap » Blog Archive » What Grayling should have said about Abu Hamza

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