Thursday, 11 November 2010

GLC criticises 'pot shots' from Justice spokesman

Scottish Conservative Party criticism of legal aid payments for asylum seekers and medical negligence claims in Scotland are ‘reckless, unjust, and ill-founded’ according to Govan Law Centre.

On Tuesday, Conservative justice spokesman John Lamont MSP attacked Scottish legal aid payments for asylum seekers cases, which totalled £3.8m in 2010/11. Mr Lamont said: "These are astonishing sums of money and every penny spent from the justice budget on legal aid is money not available for policing the streets and preventing crime".

Mr Lamont added that "The UK government is having a fundamental look at the legal aid system, to innovate and provide a value for money scheme built on sound foundations. The SNP Scottish Government needs to do the same."

Today, Mr Lamont launched an attack on legal aid paid to victims of medical negligence, which totalled £1.27m in the last six months, claiming: “There has been a shocking rise in the amount of taxpayers’ money being used to fund negligence cases against the NHS over the past few years”.

GLC’s Mike Dailly said: “Much of the legal aid ‘paid’ for reparation claims is judicial expenses recovered from opponents as the rules require awards of expenses to be routed through the Scottish Legal Aid Board; so while it may all look like legal aid it isn’t. Accordingly, Mr Lamont’s figures for medical negligence cases are significantly overstated. It’s also reckless to criticise any apparent rise without knowing if, and why, there have been more cases, or more expensive cases”.

“Attacking money paid for asylum seeker cases or blaming the Scottish Government is ridiculous when you consider that the success rate of immigration petitions for judicial review in Scotland have been running at around 80%. In other words, Mr Lamont might wish to direct his outrage at the quality of decision-making by the UK Border Agency. Or he might consider refraining from taking ill-informed pot shots”.



  1. The UK Government's survey of legal aid in England and Wales, published a few days ago, determined that legal aid for asylum applicants should be fully protected in spite of other cuts and said this:
    'Factors for retention: Importance of issues: relatively high (immediate and severe risk to clients; international legal obligations: article 15 of the 2005 EU Asylum Procedures Directive); Ability to self-represent: poor, client group, vulnerable, may be traumatised.
    Factors for removal: None."

    So Mr Lamont seems to be criticising his own party's government.

  2. Never mind it makes for a good sound bite