Letters: Legal aid cuts will deny justice for all

These letters are published in the Friday 17th January edition of the Independent

Share

I have worked as a criminal barrister since 2007. I am 31 years old, state-school educated and from a single-parent family. I became a legal aid criminal barrister because I was committed to representing those who could not afford to pay for a lawyer.

I had to take out a loan to pay for my legal education. I knew this was a risk because I was not going to become a well-paid commercial lawyer, but I was prepared to take that risk because justice for all matters to me.

Even though I have a very busy practice, it has been a constant struggle: I work extremely long hours; I sometimes earn as little as £50 per day; I struggle to pay my rent and expenses each month, and I remain in debt.

If the Government cuts legal aid fees any further I will not be able to sustain myself. Simon Hughes is calling for those from “poorer backgrounds” to consider a career in law (“Legal profession must do more to reflect modern Britain”, 13 January). But the reforms of this government to legal aid will mean that those from less privileged backgrounds, like myself, will have to find another career.

This is a great shame and will reverse changes in the make-up of the profession. However, it is my clients I am most concerned about. I will be able to get another job, but they may not be able to get another lawyer.

Eleanor Hutchison

Temple, London EC4

 

We work with the NHS

In response to your News in Brief item regarding the Care Quality Commission (“Inspectors are pointed to private healthcare firm”, 13 January), we have a proud commitment to complementing the NHS rather than seeking to replace its services – always asking our members to seek help via the NHS first before approaching Benenden Health.

Benenden Health, founded in 1905, is a mutual, not-for-profit organisation with a UK-wide membership of over 900,000. Rather than an insurance company, we are a provider of discretionary healthcare services in return for a flat-rate membership fee. Our direct involvement in the NHS has existed in other ways since its foundation midway through the 20th century.

We would happily confirm that our involvement with the Care Quality Commission forms part of our business-to-business operations, and that membership of Benenden Health is down to employees’ personal decisions and not funded through the Care Quality Commission. We refute any suggestion that our brand contributes to any detrimental impact on the NHS as this would run contrary to our core values.

Marc Bell

Chief Executive, Benenden Health, York

 

Sherlock kills a blackmailer

Although one cannot but agree with the general sentiment regarding vigilantism expressed by John Rentoul in his piece (14 January) about the final episode of Sherlock, he should remember that the writers did not stray as far as he thinks from the morality found in Conan-Doyle’s original story. 

In “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”, written in 1904, Holmes and Watson break into the blackmailer’s house, empty his safe of documents and then witness from behind a curtain Milverton being shot dead and mutilated by one of his female victims. 

So far from trying to prevent the murder and the killer’s escape, Holmes and Watson flee the scene without reporting it. In fact there is satisfaction that justice had been done even if from outside the law.

At least the TV incarnation of Holmes was prepared, rightly or wrongly, to do the deed himself and to take the consequences.

Philip Brindle

Bedford

 

Tenants on benefits

Michael Garret (letter, 15 January) defends Fergus Wilson on the grounds that landlords should be able to terminate the tenancies of those who are in arrears. Perhaps he should re-read your article, whose point was that he is terminating many tenants who are not in arrears, on the grounds that, being on benefits, they one day might be. Not at all the same thing.

David Watson

Reading

 

Fracking: don’t  take the Money

Step 1: Cut local authority funding year after year until, even after cutting many services and thousands of jobs, it is impossible to balance budgets.

Step 2: Offer to give authorities some money if they are prepared to risk severe environmental damage.

Step 3: When some authorities give in to this bribe and agree to fracking, take back the money you gave them in more cuts the following year.

Moral: Never exchange for cash anything that you can’t easily replace. Cash can easily be taken back. Once you have wrecked the environment it is too late to wish you hadn’t.

John Illingworth

Nottingham

 

Sex, lies and being a President

Someone may be good at chess, yet bad at football, and a President of France may be good at “presiding”, yet bad at running romance. 

Some assume, it seems, that if dishonesty occurs in one segment of a person’s life, it corrupts all other segments; but why think that? Just as people may appreciate opera’s aesthetic value yet not painting’s, so some may value honesty in affairs of the state, yet succumb to dishonesty in affairs of the heart. After all, numerous people lie when they say that they have read the terms and conditions, yet tell the truth when asked the way to the station.

Peter Cave

London W1

 

Uphill battle against abortion of girls

Congratulations on a brilliant piece of journalism, tackling the taboo subject of female foetus abortions (“The lost girls”, 15 January). I have been chair of a women’s group for 12 years and we have campaigned on this issue. However I am saddened to say our message has fallen on deaf ears.

Religious and political bodies pay lip-service to equality but adopt practices which are against women. Traditions have been revived such as Lohri, celebrated for a boy’s birth or wedding, Rakhri, where sister ties a thread around brother’s wrist asking him for protection, and Karva Chauth Varat, where a wife fasts all day praying for her husband’s long life. The community have made the girl a burden to bear but forgotten that from a woman sons and kings are born, a saying of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion.

Not all in the Asian community are the same; the majority love their daughters, but a minority still pray for baby boys in some of our Gurdwaras, which are complicit in this practice, as income derives from donations from parents celebrating boy births. No amount of education will make these people change their attitudes.

Rest in peace the souls of those girls aborted. Families and communities who condone such violence against unborn women will never thrive. In their old age when their boys dump them, they will wish they had a daughter to care for them.

Please continue with your campaign to stop this nefarious practice of gender-selective abortions.

Cllr Balvinder Kaur Saund

Chair, Sikh Women’s Alliance, Ilford, Essex

News that female foeticide has reached the UK’s shores is a shocking indictment of how widespread this malign practice has become.

In India, there are a staggering seven million more boys than girls aged under six, according to the 2011 census, and the gap is growing. The national figure has fallen to an alarming 914 girls for every 1,000 boys. In some states such as Punjab that ratio is as low as 846 girls to 1,000 boys, as parents mistakenly see boys as a faster route out of poverty.

Despite the Indian government enacting a law against using ultrasound technology for sex-selective abortions, the practice continues and is believed to result in more than 500,000 female foetuses being terminated every year.

Yet, as your story illustrates, this is not confined to India, and any decline in the relative number of girls needs to be halted, as it risks undermining economic and social achievements.

Plan’s “Let Girls be Born” initiative in India galvanises action to tackle the country’s disturbing sex ratio. Yet this is now a global problem and must be tackled on the international stage.

Tanya Barron

Chief Executive, Plan UK

London EC1

An aspect of prenatal sex selection and the resulting imbalance of the genders which has not been sufficiently discussed is the long-term impact on the security of women and the happiness of men.

If there are in extreme cases as many as 140 men for every 100 women, then roughly one in four or five men is unlikely to find a life-partner. It has already been seen in China that this can result in oppression and violence, including kidnap and forced marriage. The idea that scarcity of women puts power in female hands is a misconception. It also means that many men will lead unhappy, frustrated and empty lives, and will be unable to have children.

Catherine Rose

Olney, Buckinghamshire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The economy expanded by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014  

British economy: Government hails the latest GDP figures, but there is still room for skepticism over this 'glorious recovery'

Ben Chu
Comedy queen: Miranda Hart has said that she is excited about working on the new film  

There is no such thing as a middle-class laugh

David Lister
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little