The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue September 2011
I am currently on recall. At the police station I was represented by a duty solicitor and made the decision for his firm to represent me at my parole hearing. I was told that legal aid would be granted after my partner’s financial situation had been taking into account. I have now received a letter from my solicitor informing me that my application for legal aid has been declined. In order to qualify my partner was not allowed more than £99 in disposable income available to her each week. Yes, she does have more than £99, but not much more. Consideration has not been given to the fact that out of that money my partner needs to eat, clothe herself and other general expenses. I now find myself in the position of having to represent myself at a Parole Board hearing, which is very daunting indeed.
There are indications in the letter from my solicitor that things would be a lot easier for me if I were not in a relationship with my partner. Well, that is all very well, but I am. Besides, being NFA is not going to enhance my chances of getting released by the Parole Board. Couple that with the fact that if I deny my relationship I would be lying and I am not prepared to do that.
Myself and my partner have contributed over the years to Britain’s coffers in the way of taxes so why am I now being penalised when people who have never worked a day in their lives are entitled to legal aid? I think this is unjust and totally unfair. My solicitor has indicated that the fee for being represented at an oral hearing would be in the region of £3,500, with an immediate £600 needed for the solicitor to continue. Neither I nor my partner have that kind of money.
On a final note, if there is an honest, reputable and caring out-of-work solicitor out there who might want to help please get in touch. But you would be working for nothing. Thank you.
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