In a mass mock funeral procession to Parliament, around five hundred protestors, including solicitors and barristers, followed a coffin bearing the words “RIP legal aid”.

Following a minute’s silence, the demonstration, organised by the London Criminal Courts Association, was addressed by speakers from across the legal and political spectrum. Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four warned first hand of the dangers of miscarriages of justice, together with Breeda Power, daughter of one of the Birmingham Six, and representatives of the Jean Charles de Menezes family.

Amongst the many legal speakers was Baroness Kennedy QC, who said that the plan to create “public defenders...chosen by the state to represent you” was “disgraceful” and that this “Americanisation” of the system would create more miscarriages of justice. She questioned how much money is being “spent from the public purse on defending this Government”, citing the example of Jonathan Sumption QC who represented Tony Blair at the Hutton inquiry.

Blur drummer turned criminal solicitor Dave Rowntree warned of “big faceless corporations” providing “justice on the cheap”.

At a Justice for Sale meeting in the afternoon after the rally, 1,000 lawyers gathered to hear a series of speakers, including Sir Anthony Hooper QC, retired Court of Appeal judge. The group resolved not to bid for PCT contracts or cooperate with QASA, and agreed that a rolling series of training days, increasing in number, would take place on days to be announced.

On the proceeding day in Manchester, around 200 lawyers marched from Manchester Crown Court to the Palace Hotel, where civil servants were holding a legal aid consultation meeting.