Like all members I received an email earlier asking "Who will be the first to use the all-member email group?"
Ok, here goes:-
Topic: Gary Bell and the Advisory Committee
You will all know that in his January announcement about abandoning two-tier contracts, Mr Gove also said
"I intend to ensure the Legal Aid Agency can better support high quality advocacy. Furthermore, I intend to appoint an advisory council of solicitors and barristers to help me explore how we can reduce unnecessary bureaucratic costs, eliminate waste and end continuing abuses within the current legal aid system. More details will follow in due course."
I intend to write to Gary Bell QC setting out concerns about his bar-dominated panel, the lack of any London solicitor or anyone with expertise on magistrates court or police station attendances, and his publicly stated hostile views on solicitor advocates.
I nonetheless propose in the letter to offer to meet, to ensure the views of the LCCSA membership feed in to his panel.
So: questions for members-
Am I right to meet Bell, or should we ignore his self-appointed committee and liase with MOJ direct?
Would members also like to invite him to a members meeting in London where you can all have an opportunity to share your views?
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With best wishes,