One winner was Edward Fitzgerald CBE QC who acted for the Gurkhas in their recent legal battle against the government. The LALY judging panel, chaired by Cherie Booth QC, praised Mr Fitzgerald’s “intellectual and imaginative brilliance” and his unstinting work to protect the rights of the weak and the dispossessed. Gurkhas, including two holders of the Victoria Cross, were at the ceremony to see their lawyer receive his award.
Another award went to the Young Legal Aid Lawyers, a group of young solicitors and barristers who were commended for their commitment to publicly-funded work, whose drive and enthusiasm has helped reinvigorate the entire legal aid profession.
The Bar Council praised the winners. Desmond Browne QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: “Legal aid is a pillar of our welfare state, and for 60 years barristers doing publicly funded work have been providing a crucial public service. Their commitment is all the more admirable for the fact that invariably the financial reward is so small.
“I congratulate Edward Fitzgerald QC and the Young Legal Aid Lawyers on their well-merited awards. Their achievements reflect the daily dedication of the multitude of practitioners doing legal aid cases the length and breadth of the country.”