Thousands of criminal barristers join the picket line after rejecting 15% pay rise – as MPs question Criminal Bar Association chief over indefinite strikes
- Barristers created picket lines outside courts across England and Wales today
- Criminal Bar Association is demanding a 25 per cent pay rise in legal aid fees
- It claims rise will help tackle an exodus of young barristers from the profession
- Comes as figures show more than 6,000 hearings disrupted during the dispute
Thousands of criminal barristers have staged walkouts after rejecting a 15 per cent pay rise – as MPs question the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) chair over the strikes.
Members of the CBA have created picket lines outside courts across England and Wales today as part of planned action on alternate weeks after barristers voted in favour of an indefinite, uninterrupted action.
The CBA is demanding a 25 per cent pay rise in legal aid fees to help tackle an exodus of young barristers – but the Government has refused to negotiate on its 15 per cent offer.
Rallies are today being held outside the UK Supreme Court in London and at courts in Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds.
It comes as Ministry of Justice figures last week showed more than 6,000 court hearings have been disrupted by the dispute.
The 15 per cent pay rise offer would mean that the typical income of a criminal barrister would increase around £7,000 annually to £86,800.
The rise will come into force at the end of this month, but barristers remain furious that it it not immediate and will not apply to backlog cases.
Barristers stand together during a planned strike outside the UK’s Supreme Court in London today
Legal aid barristers have staged walkouts across England and Wales today in a row over legal aid funding
Members of the Criminal Bar Association have created picket lines outside courts in a dispute over pay and conditions
Rallies are today being held outside the UK Supreme Court in London and at courts in Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds
The Criminal Bar Association has started the strike action after an ‘overwhelming’ ballot of their membership rejected the latest pay offer
Labour leader and former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer last week accused the Government of doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to resolve disputes as it emerged Justice Secretary Dominic Raab.
But Mr Raab has accused barristers of ‘holding justice to ransom’, adding: ‘My message to the CBA is simple. We are increasing your pay. Now your actions are only harming victims, increasing the court backlog.’
The radical all-out strike has been effectively on since Tuesday last week as previously-arranged walkouts continued in the meantime.
The CBA have been walking out intermittently since June – which escalated to week-long strikes in August.
It then announced on August 21 that a new wave of action by legal aid-funded barristers would begin today.
Rather than continuing a ‘week on, week off’ pattern, the defence lawyers are refusing to go to court at all.
Criminal defence barrister Kannan Siva reads a statement outside Bristol Crown Court in support of strikes today
The radical all-out strike has been effectively on since Tuesday last week as previously-arranged walkouts continued in the meantime. Pictured: Barristers outside the Supreme Court
The CBA have been walking out intermittently since June – which escalated to week-long strikes in August
University and College Union members arrive at Manchester Crown Court to support striking barristers in earlier today
Criminal barristers protest outside Manchester Crown Court holding placards and a large banner
As further strikes were announced, the mother of one murder victim told the Daily Mail: ‘I don’t know if my heart can withstand it.’
Mr Raab also wrote: ‘Leaders of the CBA are now holding justice to ransom – threatening the progress we’ve achieved, causing untold anguish for victims, and preventing the innocent from clearing their names.’
‘Ramping up strike action now is needless and indefensible, especially after we confirmed a pay boost that will put an extra £7,000 in the average criminal barrister’s pockets.’