In a demonstration of inclusivity the Justice For All launch yesterday was rammed. There were queues snaking back into Westminster Hall and they had to run the presentations twice because they couldn’t fit everyone in the first time round. Baroness Scotland and Lord Bach attended along with Yvonne Fovargue MP (Chair APPG Legal Aid). Alan Beith (Chair of the Select Committee on Justice) and Sadiq Khan (Shadow Justice Minister Secretary) both spoke, Beith announcing an urgent review of the legal aid reform proposals and a call for evidence in February*. There appears to have been a certain pricking up of ears amongst Labour MPs in recent days. Although I haven’t happened upon anything in the press yet today there were some journalists present and taking interviews. There are a few new signatures on the EDM, but not nearly enough.
There were touching stories from clients of how frontline advice services had helped change lives – through debt advice and counselling or support to rehouse survivors of domestic violence or victims of antisocial behaviour and bullying. As noted by Sadiq Khan there is no point in having law if you don’t have access to it.
You can follow the progress of the Justice for All campaign on twitter @JusticeAll
[*Postscript – of course the inquiry into access to justice was announced some time ago, and written submissions are requested by 24 Jan but oral evidence is due to be heard in Feb. Sometimes there are too many things going on to be quite up to speed! Other minor corrections and additions made.]