Jenny Marra : “Medieval” shake up of Scottish Legal Aid System
12 September 2012
Proposed changes to the Legal Aid system in Scotland could mean people on low incomes accused of a crime may have to pay to clear their name under new reforms.
The move by Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has been criticised by legal, disability and human rights experts.
Labour’s Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, and Deputy Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee Jenny Marra MSP said:
“These SNP changes to criminal legal aid are medieval.
“Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says that if people have more than £68 a week disposable income then they can afford to pay a contribution, but the reality is that many of the poorest simply cannot afford it.
“He has said that disabled living allowance and war veterans’ pensions are disposable income. He is not living in the real world.
“This kind of proposal could have come straight from David Cameron’s cabinet. It is not something that Scots expect from their Government.
“Many people facing prosecution simply won’t be able to pay. Some will appear in court unrepresented, and it will lead to major disruption in court which already suffers from delays.
“And for those who are found innocent, they don’t get any money back.
“The SNP want people to pay for their innocence. MacAskill’s pay plan is medieval and risks the integrity of our legal system to save the Government money.”
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