This is the speech I made to the #Just4Justice Legal Aid protest on 7 March 2014.
As you probably know, we’re going to be hearing a lot over the next year about the Magna Carta, because in 2015 it will be 800 years old.
It’s going to be a big deal – there are going to be celebrations all over the world, with week-long events in cities across the UK including London, Canterbury, Oxford, Hereford, Salisbury, Durham.
There will be a three-month-long celebration in Runnymede where the charter was sealed, as well as books, TV Shows, an opera, a poem by the poet laureate, a tapestry, generic drugs, commemorative stamps and coins, exhibitions in Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals ,The Bodleian Library, and the National Archives and The Library of Congress in the USA.
But I know what I think the best birthday present would be for Magna Carta – for Chris Grayling to announce he’s going to scrap his plans to abolish the rights and the freedoms set out in it.
Such as in clause 40, which says:
To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
It’s the foundation for the principle of equality under the law that we have taken for granted for generations in the UK.
Now Mr Grayling plans to scrap it, and create a 2-tier justice system – justice for the rich, McJustice for the poor.
It’s it’s a shame it’s had to come to this – lawyers having to protest rather than go to court to defend their clients.
And it’s a shame that 800 years after Magna Carta, we are still having to meet to demand equality for all under the law.