A complicated fraud trial has been halted by a Judge because of cuts at the Ministry of Justice.
“To be strictly accurate, there is essentially one ‘Cut’ responsible.” said Alex Cameron QC, working free of charge on the application yesterday, “Chris Grayling, known as the ‘Unkindest Cut of all’ down at the Bailey. At least I think that’s what they call him.”
Government fees for trickyLegal Aid cases have been cut by 30% and as a result no barrister accepted the brief. Although the Justice Minister says that ‘suitably qualified’ advocates could have taken the case, he feigned deafness when asked for names and phone numbers.
“Even after my err … fee adjustments” said Grayling “a QC could receive £100,000 for this case.” and explained how he uses big numbers which start with a £ sign. “First, I find something state-financed, with a large cost attached. Next, I publish that figure, point at it and shout ‘Look, look, that’s a lot of money! It must be possible to do it cheaper’. I don’t actually check if it is possible, I have a strategic role and can’t get bogged down in detail.”
The Minister is keen to bring ‘private sector rigour’ to bear on public expenditure. “To illustrate my point, only last week I spoke with a Bentley salesman, who told me the price of a Continental GT was £180,000”.
“Quick as a flash I told him ‘That’s a big number, so you must be able to provide it cheaper and I’ll only pay £120,000’. Do you see? That’s how it works in a free market and it’s how I approach public spending.”
“The Bentley? No, unfortunately not. He told me I could f*ck right off.”