Blog - The Verdict
MSB Solicitors Liverpool
MSB Blog - The Verdict
Sean Sexton

Sean Sexton

Sean was one of the founding partners of MSB Solicitors.
Twitter handle: @seansexton58
The Government wants to cut Legal Aid by up to 30% in the most substantial criminal cases where there are thousands of pages of evidence to be considered.

This is the latest in a long line of cuts. The last time legal aid rates were increased for criminal cases was in 1992. Twenty five years ago. Neil Kinnock was the Labour leader and only political nerds had heard of Tony Blair. Lisa Stansfield had the Christmas number one single.

I can hear some of you cheering already. Grasping lawyers lining their pockets by getting lowlife off serious offences. But behind that stereotype lies a very different truth, as was revealed in the case of Liam Allen earlier this month.

Liam, a 22-year-old criminology student, faced up to 10 years in jail after being accused of raping a fellow student in 2017. His trial was halted at Croydon Crown Court last week and the judge, Peter Gower, called for a review of disclosure of evidence by the Metropolitan Police, as well as an inquiry at the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is understood that some 40,000 texts sent by the complainant, that left no doubt of Mr Allan’s innocence, were not disclosed by police working on the case. Now, Scotland Yard is said to be carrying out an "urgent assessment" after the prosecution collapsed due to the late disclosure of evidence which ultimately undermined the case.

Sean Sexton, partner in our crime team has welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to correct the interpretation of so called “joint enterprise” law.
 
He said:
 
“There is no doubt in my mind that a large number of people have been unjustly convicted of serious offences including murder over the last thirty years because of the misinterpretation of the mental element required for somebody to be convicted on a joint enterprise basis.”
 
Sean cautioned, nevertheless, that it will be a long, hard struggle for those who seek to overturn convictions in joint enterprise cases. He continued:
 
“Every case will have to be considered on its own facts. The Court of Appeal will be very reluctant to open the floodgates to thousands of potential appeals.
 
 “The Supreme Court itself made clear that their putting the law right does not render invalid all convictions which were arrived at over many years by courts faithfully applying the law as then laid down.
 
 “Existing convictions can be set aside only by seeking exceptional leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal out of time.
 
 “The Court of Appeal will not grant leave to appeal simply because the law then applied has now been declared to have been mistaken.
 
 “Whilst the Supreme Court decision today gives hope to many, it is only the start of a long process with an uncertain outcome.”
My firm, MSB Solicitors in Liverpool, employ 80 local people despite the best efforts of the Ministry of Justice.
We have an excellent Family Law department and we also do a lot of work for small businesses.

The latest wheeze from the Ministry of Justice (proprietor Chris Grayling MP, Lord Chancellor) is to increase court fees for bringing money claims over the value of £10,000.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/418837/leter-to-lord-dyson-27-march.pdf

The government want to cut the number of firms nationwide carrying out criminal work from 1,600 firms to 525. More than two thirds of firms will be wiped out and their staff will lose their jobs.
 
I can hear some of you cheering already. Grasping lawyers lining their pockets by getting lowlife off serious offences.
 
But behind that stereotype lies a very different truth.
 
Most  of my clients have never previously been in trouble with the police.
 
Most are in work, have families and live law abiding lives. Some even vote Tory.
 
A taxi driver accused of making a homophobic remark to a passenger
 
A teacher accused of altering a form for the local council amounting to a forgery
 
A young lad celebrating his 18th birthday given a wrap of drugs  by his mates
 
A nurse accused of drinking and driving
 
A doctor accused of possessing indecent images on the family computer
 
A company director accused of defrauding the taxman
 
A young man defending his mate in a fight outside a pub accused of GBH
 
The list is endless.
Mr Grayling is one of the big beasts of the government.

A darling of the right wing of the party, sound on Europe,  the scourge of criminals and their grasping lawyers and contemptuous  of High Court judges.

Mr Justice Burnett ruled last week  that The Lord Chancellor acted ‘unlawfully’ in the way he consulted on controversial plans to shake up criminal legal aid. The judge said  that the ministry’s failure to disclose the findings of two key reports on plans to introduce new dual criminal legal aid contracts was ‘so unfair as to result in illegality’. Quashing the lord chancellor’s decision to reduce the number of duty provider contracts from 1,600 firms to 525,  he advised a  reconsultation of the profession.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29283993

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