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Stopping legal cost claims if found not guilty is tax on innocence

PUBLISHED: 14:19 05 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:56 05 October 2010

Dear Editor, ANYONE acquitted of a criminal charge in a Crown court is able to claim back reasonable out-of-pocket legal expenses. But the Government has made proposals to remove this established right as a cost-cutting measure for those who are not on legal aid. This would be a pernicious tax on innocence

Dear Editor,

ANYONE acquitted of a criminal charge in a Crown court at present is able to claim back reasonable out-of-pocket legal expenses.

But the Government has made proposals to consider removing this established right as a cost-cutting measure for those who are not on legal aid.

It promises to uphold the right to an interpreter, costing £12 million a year, so an accused person has a chance of understanding a charge and defending themselves.

But if an innocent person knows they cannot get their legal costs back, if found not guilty, they might plead guilty-as the price of innocence might be much higher than a fine. The savings to the Government by this measure is estimated at around £8m.

One-in-five Crown court cases results an innocent verdict, often on a judge's advice.

Prosecutions can include relatively ordinary matters such as motoring, where the authorities have been found to be less than perfect.

The Government has voted through an extra £1 billion a year to subsidise our competitors in the EU. It would do better to put its own house in order, rather than toying with a pernicious tax on innocence.

The official consultation on this issue runs until 29th January, which can be responded to online. We also have a fact sheet available.

Brian Mooney

New Alliance campaign

PO Box 13199, London SW6 6ZU

Tel: 020-7386 1837


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