Long-term prisoner Kevan Thakrar gives his perspective on the barristers’ strike

SA Uncategorized

Kevan made this statement on the ongoing barrister’s strike, from his prison cell in Belmarsh segregation unit:

“Firstly, I should say it is a disgrace that Legal Aid rates are so meagre, especially for new barristers. Only a corrupt capitalist society would think it acceptable to exploit its citizens to the extent that they cannot afford to survive on what they earn, whilst slandering them through the media with propaganda that portrays them as the disgruntled rich.

This said, if criminal barristers had a real belief in defending the innocent from wrongful imprisonment, they would make this strike about a lot more than just their pay-packets and in doing so could draw in the support of wider society.

It has not been the ever-decreasing standards of criminal trials – which have seen the introduction of anonymous witnesses, use of hearsay ‘evidence’, the slander that is bad character evidence, the ability for police and prosecutors to sit as jurors, the permissibility of double jeopardy or the mass use of the Joint Enterprise Doctrine – which has brought them out to protest. The campaigning organisation APPEAL set out 25 vital reforms to the criminal justice system earlier this year. It would not be difficult to adopt these as demands to go along with barristers’ quest for better rates of pay.

Even if it is only to be about money, why not expand the scope to say the fixed fees being raised by 25% is not all they want? They could also fight for an expansion of the groups and situations in which people qualify for legal aid, so that the amount of work available increases as well as the numbers who receive legal representation. This narrow focused approach only exemplifies that criminal defence barristers are part of the apparatus of the state, which enables the function of the injustice system to duly oppress and imprison its population focused mainly upon the marginalised, poor, and those who dare to resist.

It is no surprise that once the accused becomes the convicted, unless you are a rich private paying client, it is practically impossible to get one of these barristers to represent you. Not enough money in it for them; not a care in the world that an innocent person may well have lost their life to imprisonment, even if they are the barrister responsible for the shoddy job that enabled this. They never stepped out over the lack of legal aid for criminal appeals – why bother when the system continues to churn out fresh cases for them to get paid?

So, criminal defence barristers are poorly paid, but when they sell their souls to support a system of oppression they should count themselves fortunate that they are not in the shoes of the millions of their clients who have been let down by the system they are propping up, and wasting years of their lives imprisoned.”

Kevan Thakrar – A4907AE

Segregation Unit

HMP Belmarsh

Western Way


SE28 0EB


Kevan can also be contacted via www.emailaprisoner.com