Defence Minister Defends Legal Aid Cut & Paste

salivating fox

Salivating Fox courtesy of Everything is Permuted (Flickr)

Today I wrote to my MP, Dr Fox. He is probably known to most of you as Secretary of State for Defence. I wrote to him about the proposed reforms of Legal Aid and in support of the Justice For All Campaign, which is launching in Parliament next week. The speed with which he replied (1 hour 43 minutes, since you ask) coupled with the amount of key favourable statistics he appears to have had right at his fingertips, and the odd inclusion of a paragraph on criminal legal aid which was not the subject of my letter at all, leads me to be a little bit suspicious I have been cut and pasted from some briefing. Notwithstanding the fact that this is clearly exactly what I should have expected of a busy MP and minister (especially one to whom it is probably immediately obvious that he has never received and is never likely to receive my vote) I find myself feeling a bit cheated about this, because I made a point of sending a totally custom letter rather than simply adapting a template.

But, whatever the process by which this emailed response was speedily put together it is the content of the response which I found rather more alarming – we must after all take these words to represent the accurate and considered view of the Minister (delegated to the aide who sent me the email but nonetheless signed from Liam Fox) and, according to the principle of cabinet collective responsibility, the Government at large. I’m not going to analyse the content here, I’m simply going to reproduce it in full with highlighting of the sections that forced my eyebrows to rise and my brow to furl and left me feeling that this government’s tendency to treat litigants as if they have flounced into court at the first hint of a spat just for a laugh as rather patronising as well as just plain inaccurate.

Continue Reading…