JusticeWatch: A parakeet among pigeons

Michael Gove at Policy Exchange delivering his keynote speech 'The Importance of Teaching'
Michael Gove at Policy Exchange delivering his keynote speech ‘The Importance of Teaching’

A parakeet among pigeons
Ian Leslie in the New Statesman profiled ‘Michael Gove, the polite assassin’. The Lord Chancellor was a man of contrasts:  ‘the politest man in politics and one of the most abrasive, a charmer who cultivates enemies’.

It continued: ‘He is pious, loyal and incurably irreverent. He is a gifted communicator who is widely misunderstood, an accomplished operator who repeatedly makes basic errors, and a right-wing ideologue with a fierce aversion to unearned privilege. He is a Conservative. He is a radical.’

Gove was ‘an inveterate reformer’ driven by ‘a desire to change the world, rather than simply manage it,’ Leslie said. As a personality, he stood out ‘in the rather bland world of Westminster, a parakeet among pigeons’. Legal aid had been slashed ‘to a level that gravely endangers the quality of justice available to the poor’. ‘Criminal lawyers are overstretched and underpaid,’ Leslie wrote.

‘If he takes on the legal establishment as he took on the education establishment, he may have the biggest fight of his political career. Lawyers are closer than teachers to the levers of political power, and advocates are usually pretty good at advocating. The Gove brand might become retoxified by combat. But if he doesn’t take that risk, will he still be able to do big things?’
Ian Leslie

Legal Futures claimed exclusive access to the transcript of a secret meeting held recently between Lord Chancellor Michael Gove and a delegation from the Bar Council.

BC negotiator: Have you heard of QASA, sir?
Gove: Oh yes, love it – running around, shooting my cabinet colleagues with lasers. Great fun.

At his conference speech, Gove ‘made no mention of human rights reform, legal aid or civil justice’ but instead focused on prison reform.

Tweet of the week

A cynical and empty rant
What does Theresa May’s speech mean for immigrants and refugees? Asked Colin Yeo on www.freemovement.org.uk (here).

‘Theresa May is positioning herself to make a bid for the leadership of the party when David Cameron steps down as Prime Minister in 2020. It is difficult, therefore, to know whether to take the speech seriously and fear for the future or to dismiss it as a cynical and empty rant.’
Colin Yeo

The Independent reported the shocking story of a couple whose baby was adopted after they were wrongly accused of abuse and are now unlikely to ever see the child again despite being cleared.

Three years ago, Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter took their six-week-old to A&E after noticing bleeding in the baby’s mouth following a feed. The child was taken into care as a result of concerns over abuse because of bruises and possible fractures on the body. The case against the couple after new medical evidence showed there were no signs of abuse.

The couple had been refused legal aid to fight the adoption. ‘This tragic case highlights the real dangers of the Government’s drive to increase adoption and speed up family proceedings at all costs,’ commented defence lawyer Emma Fenn.

A defence lawyer tweeted the Legal Aid Agency if they had any news on the criminal defence tender. He got this response – as reported in the Law Society’s Gazette.

LAA tweetNot sure what it means – but it doesn’t sound good.

Truckload of trouble
Hurrah, the former legal director of Stobart Barristers, Trevor Howarth is back. If you recall Howarth likened solicitors’ firms to ‘wounded animals waiting to die’. His new venture – Two Legal Services Limited has been authorised as an ABS  – but the Gazette notes little is known about the latest venture.

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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