Britain has been dubbed the legal aid capital of Europe as our spending dwarfs almost every nation on the continent
- Legal aid spending in England and Wales was the third highest out of nearly 50 countries
- The study suggested that other countries should try to mimic UK investments
- Legal aid spending in England and Wales stood at £ 1.5 billion last year, but the Advocate Council, which represents lawyers, has proposed increasing the number
According to an official study, the UK's spending on legal aid exceeds almost every other country in Europe.
The expenditure of England and Wales was the third highest of nearly 50 countries analyzed and funded the second highest number of legal aid cases each year.
The Council of Europe study torpedoes claims made by lawyers in this country that legal aid is underfunded. The council even said other European countries should try to emulate Britain's massive investments.
In August, the Daily Mail revealed that PC Andrew Harper's killers had received more than £ 465,000 in legal aid. The staggering sum was paid to attorneys and attorneys defending 19-year-old ringleader Henry Long and accomplices Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, both 18 years old, who dragged the policeman to his death behind a car.
Undated photo of the handout file issued by Thames Valley Police Department of Henry Long, one of the killers of Pc Andrew Harper, who with his accomplices raised £ 465,000 legal aid
Previously unpublished photo dated September 19, 2019 of Albert Bowers (left) and Jessie Cole (center) leaving Reading Magistrates Court following an appearance related to the death of PC Andrew Harper
Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd, who caused the death of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown in 2015, received £ 93,000 legal assistance despite skipping his trial and escaping.
Miss Brown's father Graham said last night, "I don't think the taxpayer realizes how generous the system is, and this report in some ways underscores that."
Conservative MP Tom Hunt said: "The legal profession … needs to be careful as it is beginning to turn the phrase 'legal aid' into something with negative connotations for the public."
Yesterday's report by the European Commission on the Efficiency of Justice looked at the legal systems in 45 Council of Europe countries as well as in Israel, Morocco and Kazakhstan.
Commenting on the UK numbers, Jasa Vrabec of CEPEJ said: “This is a very good access to justice thing when there are large numbers of the judicial budget available.
"It shows the importance of justice in a judicial system and I really want other European countries to devote a higher percentage of GDP to legal aid."
Spending in Northern Ireland was highest at just over 48 euros per inhabitant.
Speedboat killer Jack Shepherd, who caused the death of 24-year-old Charlotte Brown in 2015, received £ 93,000 legal assistance despite skipping his trial and escaping
According to the 2018 analysis, Sweden came next at € 35.6, England and Wales at € 31.3 (£ 28). The report found that Germany only spent 7.8 euros and France 7.16 euros. The UK also performed strongly in terms of the number of mutual legal aid cases funded. Across the country, 1,538,453 cases were paid for by taxpayers in 2018, second only to Spain with just under 1.9 million.
Last year legal aid spending in England and Wales stood at £ 1.5 billion, but the Advocate Council, which represents lawyers, has proposed raising that to £ 2.48 billion.
However, Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar, said, "Comparing legal aid spending in England and Wales with other countries is like comparing apples to oranges."
According to the CEPEJ survey, the UK performs poorly on the number of women in the judiciary. Women in the UK made up less than 40 percent of judges, behind countries like Hungary, Latvia, Serbia and Romania.
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