Justice Secretary Chris Grayling orders 'immediate' investigation of legal aid system
Wednesday 07 November 2012
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has called for an “immediate examination” of the legal aid system after it emerged terror suspect Abu Hamza's legal battles cost taxpayers almost £1 million.
"Resources aren't limitless" and should be reserved for cases where there is genuine need, Mr Grayling said.
Questioning whether the system provided value for money, the Cabinet minister spoke out after taxpayers were left with a total bill of more than £900,000 for cases involving the radical cleric.
It also emerged that Jordanian terror suspect Abu Qatada, who is still fighting against deportation with a senior immigration judge set to rule on the case this month, has cost the taxpayer £390,000 in legal aid.
But the Legal Services Commission has secured frozen assets of £217,286.57 for use towards Qatada's bill.
Mr Grayling said: "We must never lose sight of the fact that legal aid is paid for by the taxpayer.
"The total costs in some cases seem very high and many - myself included - will question whether they provide value for money."
He went on: "I am concerned about public confidence in the legal aid system.
"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. Legal aid should be reserved for cases where there is genuine need."
Hamza, who denies terror charges in New York after being kicked out of the UK following a failed appeal against extradition last month, benefited from almost £680,000 in legal aid, figures released to the Daily Mail following a request under the Freedom of Information Act showed.
This included £445,452.65 to defend him against charges of inciting terrorism, £165,460.81 fighting against extradition and £68,107.33 to fight attempts by the Home Office to remove his passport.
Home Office lawyers, who were fighting to put him on a plane, cost an additional £250,000 in legal aid, taking the total to £909,423.70.
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...