One of the most illiberal and misconceived measures adopted by the Ministry of Justice – perhaps by any government department in recent years – was the criminal courts charge.
The MoJ cannot easily ignore this; and it may be that is the point. It is very helpful for a Tory-majority select committee to give “cover” to the MoJ in reversing this measure. Indeed, you can easily imagine the polite conversation:
– “Hello Michael.”
“Thank you for taking my call, Bob. Very kind. How are you?”
– “In good form Michael, mustn’t grumble. How are you?”
“I am well, thank you ever so much for asking. So thoughtful of you. But I do need a little help. Dreadful policy inherited from Chris. We need to shift it, but we do need some cover.”
– “I know, perhaps a damning report?”
“What a great idea, Bob, oh yes please. I knew you would think of something.”
I am certain no such conversation actually took place (and I am only being satirical). The charge is so awful that being critical of it needs no external influence.
And if the MoJ does now proceed with the charge’s abolition (or fundamental change) then – following the MoJ’s delay last week of the botched criminal legal aid procurement – it would seem that almost every distinctive policy of Grayling at MoJ has now been reversed or improved.
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