In this article, you will get all the information regarding Dominic Raab disowns £50m deal that ended ‘unwarranted’ barristers’ strike as Justice Secretary suggests it could threaten funding for victim support, drug rehab or prisoners’ education
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Dominic Raab today promised not to ‘unpick’ the £54million deal that brought an end to the recent strike action by criminal barristers – although the justice secretary warned of additional strain on his department’s finances.
Appearing before the Justice Committee of the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Raab suggested the millions of pounds of settlement could be cut elsewhere.
He speculated about money being taken away from victims’ support, drug rehabilitation or education for prisoners as he continued to criticize the ‘unfair’ strike action.
At the end of September, Mr Raab’s predecessor Brandon Lewis agreed a £54 million investment in the criminal bar and solicitors to end a strike by criminal barristers over fees and conditions.
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The walkout action began when Mr Raab was previously justice secretary – he was sacked in September by former prime minister Liz Truss before being replaced by Mr Lewis.
Mr Raab, now in charge of the Justice Ministry under Mr Truss’ successor Rishi Sunak, categorically refused to give credit to Mr Lewis for ending the barristers’ strike.
Criminal barristers went on strike earlier this year in a dispute over legal aid. Industrial action ends after government agrees £54m deal
Dominic Raab ratchets up the pressure on his department’s finances with a multi-million pound settlement
Labor MP Karl Turner asked Mr Raab, if he had not been sacked by Liz Truss, whether the strike action would still be on
Mr Raab categorically refused to give credit to his predecessor Brandon Lewis for ending the barristers’ strike
Asked why it took only a few weeks for Mr Lewis to end the government’s dispute with barristers, Mr Raab told the committee: ‘I thought about strike action … although I am not aware of the pressures on the criminal bar. sympathize with, I didn’t do it’ I don’t think it was warranted.
‘And by the way, the cost to organize it is over £50 million.
‘So while I am not going back on the deal I made earlier, the idea that a magic wand can be thrown at this, or that it is just a diplomatic fix or a question of niceties, is not the case.’
Mr Raab appeared to further reject the deal agreed by his predecessor as he expressed his frustration at putting additional pressure on the Justice Ministry’s budget at a time of sweeping Whitehall spending cuts.
Asked by Labor MP Carl Turner whether he believed the strike would still be on if he had not been temporarily removed from his cabinet role by Ms Truss, Mr Raab replied: ‘I would. Made my position clear, I don’t look back on it and think it was wrong.
‘Cause I think, otherwise, you’d have to tell me where the £50 million plus is going to come from.
‘On the other hand, it’s settled, I don’t believe in picking the deals done. I don’t think that’s true in terms of faith.
‘But don’t pretend for a moment, or I certainly don’t believe for a moment, that that was an urgent strike.
‘I think it has caused a lot of damage – I think the CBA didn’t behave in a responsible manner.
‘And the £50 million pressure that is put on the budget at the top of the Autumn Statement is something that I’ve got then.
‘Where do you say the £50 million should come from? Should it come from victim support? Should it come from drug rehabilitation? Should it come from education for prisoners?
‘Those are the real problems in the real world that government ministers have to deal with.
‘That money does not come from thin air.’
The justice secretary also told the committee that this year’s barristers strike had an ‘impact’ on the backlog of Crown Court cases stemming from the Covid crisis
Mr Raab said industrial action by criminal solicitors – which is currently being considered as part of a wider dispute over pay for legal aid work – was not ‘the right thing to do right now’.
The justice secretary said he understood the ‘pressure on pay and fees’.
But he added: ‘If you want to make the case for more money, which we are committed to, tell me where it comes from.
‘Does it come from the support we’re providing for victims of violent crime, or indeed victims of rape?
‘Does it come from the drug rehabilitation money that we’ve been putting in and I’m trying to save it?
‘Did it come from the money I’m putting into eliminating or reducing re-offending to deal with homelessness for prisoners?
‘It has to come from somewhere.’
The Justice Secretary also told the committee that the barristers’ strike this year had an ‘impact’ on the backlog of Crown Court cases stemming from the Covid crisis.
Asked whether the government is still hopeful of achieving the target of reducing that backlog to 53,000 cases by March 2025, Mr Raab said: ‘We are going to try everything we can to hit it. Huh. But I cannot claim that the CBA strike has not affected him.
‘We were on the downside and it’s gone back up. At the end of September this figure was 62,500.
Dominic Raab disowns £50m deal that ended ‘unwarranted’ barristers’ strike as Justice Secretary suggests it could threaten funding for victim support, drug rehab or prisoners’ education
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