Teenager challenges Prime Minister over legal aid cuts
A schoolboy whose family endured an eight-year struggle to prove that his cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence yesterday took the campaign against cuts in legal aid to David Cameron's front door.
Andrew Green's parents relied on legal aid at every stage of their battle to demonstrate that his condition – shared by the Prime Minister's late son Ivan – was the result of mistakes during his birth.
They eventually won the marathon case, and used the compensation to move into a specially-adapted bungalow, pay for physiotherapy and speech therapy and computer equipment.
It has changed 14-year-old Andrew's life beyond recognition: he can now walk unaided, take part in sports, is taking his exams early and runs a business from his bedroom selling software.
He is also helping to lead a campaign, Sound Off For Justice, opposing the plans for widespread cuts in legal aid, including claims for clinical negligence. As MPs debated the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill yesterday, the cause took Andrew to Downing Street, where he handed in a letter of protest to the Prime Minister.
Andrew, from New Waltham, Lincs, told Mr Cameron: "I am not sure if you understand that removing legal aid will mean that families in our situation, in future, will have nowhere to turn to turn for help with legal costs.
"In my opinion, no one can pass such a sensitive Bill without previous experience of what it is like to be in the situations of people who need the legal aid you are going to remove."
His mother, Julie, a parish clerk, said: "We wouldn't have stood a chance without legal aid – the bills were hundreds of thousands of pounds and we did not know how long the case would last."
Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, argues that such disputes can be resolved by mediation or by lawyers taking on cases on a "no win, no fee" basis. But critics maintain that legal firms will be deterred by the practical problems in demonstrating negligence.
Opposition to the cuts was growing yesterday. David Bott, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said: "Mr Clarke will leave many seriously-injured people unable to obtain the compensation they need to get their lives back on track."
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, accused politicians of delivering a "slap in the face" to ordinary families, children and the disabled.
Mr Clarke said yesterday: "Our legal aid bill the most expensive in the world by far and we are funding litigation which is perfectly unnecessary in less serious matters where really taxpayers shouldn't pay."
But he offered a concession by announcing an extra £20m in funding to law centres, whose future is threatened by the cuts. They provide advice in less prosperous communities.
The Justice Secretary also gave further details of moves to clarify the law on self-defence. He said householders would have a "perfect defence" if they hit a burglar with a poker.
- 1 JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 Georgia Army veteran arrested for breaking window to save dog has charges dropped
- 4 New Zealand 'the best country to work as a prostitute', says sex worker advocacy group
- 5 Melissa McCarthy's brilliant response to one sexist question posed to her on the red carpet by a male reporter
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Isis seizes Palmyra - live updates: Militants behead men as ancient city falls to terror group
Evany José Metzker dead: Decapitated body of Brazilian journalist and blogger investigating child prostitution ring found
Georgia Army veteran arrested for breaking window to save dog has charges dropped
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Labour leadership: Battle lines are drawn as members battle over party's ideology at first hustings of the contest
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...
£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...