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The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue September 2011

How mean is means testing

From Mr Harding – HMP Gloucester

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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Summary of letters in the Mailbag for September 2011
Take the moral high ground
Cause of the riots? Let’s ask the rioters
Slopping out revisited
Branston not closing down
Horrendous treatment
Secret PSI?
Kosher meals
Backlash for complaining
Historic sex offence cases a travesty of justice
Drop me out!
Duvet rip off
Isolated prisoners will help raise awareness
For shame!
Missing Post
Return of al-Megrahi
Branded with the brush of denial
No confidence in MoJ
40% Deduction from wages a double jeopardy
Tackling canteen price increases
Charity should begin (and stay) at home
‘Mis-management’ of our prisons
Lie detector tests for all PMIs
HMP encouraging prisoners to break the law
Current page: How mean is means testing
Well done, son

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