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Last year, a third (34%) of adults aged 18+ in Great Britain agreed that legal aid should be cut as part of the deficit reduction programme, but there has been a shift in opinion with only 23% agreeing this year.LAG also undertook an analysis of news stories about legal aid and found evidence that the government has pursued a policy of systematic attacks to try and sway public opinion against the legal aid system and the lawyers who work in it-
In 2013, 44% of people disagreed with the statement that legal aid should be cut to reduce the government spend deficit, compared to 49% this year.
A quarter of adults neither agreed nor disagreed that legal aid should be cut to reduce the deficit in 2014, compared to just under one in five (18%) in 2013, an increase of 7 percentage points.
The research quotes an article in which Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling criticises the firm Public Interest Lawyers for its pursuit of claims by Iraqis against British forces. The owner of the firm Phil Shiner links such articles to death threats he has received.Despite attempts by the government to smear the legal aid system and the lawyers who work in it to justify cutting it, only a small proportion of the public agreed that this should happen. The level of support for the government’s position has been slumping even further over the last year. A significantly greater proportion of the public disagree with the decision to cut legal aid as a means to reduce the government deficit than did so 12 months ago.
In another article Chris Graying, uses figures on earnings from the legal aid system to demonstrate that the legal aid system “is not sustainable,” but fails to explain that the firm he quotes as earning nearly £15m per year, Duncan Lewis, is the largest civil legal aid firm in the country and employs hundreds of staff and undertakes around 20,000 cases a year.
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