My name is Richard Bentwood. I am a criminal legal aid barrister and proud of it. I am proud of our criminal justice system. I am proud that I am able to do a worthwhile job which can positively impact on peoples lives.
During the last 12 months what I have been feeling is not pride, however, but anger. Anger at the proposed ‘reforms’ which seem set to devastate our CJS. Anger that we have in Chris Grayling a politician who has forgotten that he is Lord Chancellor and instead seems intent on an ideological attack on the independent criminal bar.
Rather than remain angry, I decided to do something about it. Following the notoriety of my downfall videos, Michael Turner QC co-opted me onto the CBA executive where I have worked trying to promote the interests of the criminal bar and defeat the introduction of these reforms.
I have written pieces for the Times, the Huffington Post as well as many blogs, all to try and make sure that the message gets out there, the message that our criminal justice system is one to be cherished, to be valued and not to be destroyed.
As a member of the CBA social media committee I manage the CBA blog, as well as being one of the hidden ‘voices’ behind the CBA twitter feed. As a member of the CBA executive I work to promote the interests of the junior bar, work I wish to continue as an officer of the CBA.
I work in legal aid. I have attended at unpaid mentions, the £194 travesty that is payment for elected trials which end up being dropped. I know what it is like at the coal face and I know just how difficult life can be at the junior bar. I also know that if these cuts are implemented, solicitors firms will go under, work will dry up and for those who are able to remain in practice, their incomes will diminish to the point of untenability.
It is for these reasons that my manifesto promise is as short as it is simple. It is to fight these cuts with every fibre of my being, with every ounce of my energy. It is for these reasons I ask you to vote for me. Instructions as to how to do this can be found here. If elected as an officer of the CBA, I shall continue with the work I have been doing this last year. I shall be a voice on the executive of one who practices at the coal face, who knows how important winning this fight is and who will do everything within my power to see that the fight is won.