On 28th November 2013 Save Justice delivered 3,000 postcards to the Liberal Democrats Headquarters, as part of the “Postcards for Justice” campaign. Each postcard contained a personal message to Nick Clegg, as Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats, urging him to take a stand against the Government’s proposals to cut criminal and civil legal aid and to restrict access to judicial review.
The postcards were signed by leading public figures and celebrities including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Emma Thompson, Bianca Jagger, Noam Chomsky, Peter Tatchell, Skin, and Michael Mansfield QC. They were signed by thousands of people from all across the United Kingdom, and from all walks of life, who share a concern that the proposed changes to legal aid and judicial review will create profound injustices in our legal system and society, giving rise to risks of miscarriages of justice, and preventing vulnerable people from challenging unlawful decisions of the state.
After several months of silence, Nick Clegg has finally responded to the concerns of so many. Here is a copy of the Letter from Nick Clegg received by Save Justice last week.
This morning we delivered around 3,000 postcards to Nick Clegg at Lib Dem HQ. Each contains a personal message to the Deputy Prime Minister, expressing concern about the government’s proposed changes to legal aid and judicial review. Each postcard calls on Nick Clegg to take a stand to defend access to justice.
The postcards are signed by concerned citizens from all walks of life, and from every corner of the United Kingdom: pensioners, sixth formers, school children, GPs and other NHS health professionals, university students from Oxford, Lancaster, York, Bristol, London, and many, many universities up and down the country, Rabbis and members of liberal Jewish groups, Reverends, Quakers, members of choirs, amateur dramatics groups, book clubs, netball teams, film producers, designers, professional musicians, charity workers, social workers, youth workers, engineers. Here is a map showing where the postcards have been sent from.
This campaign was launched only a few weeks ago. The response in such a short time has been impressive. Thanks to volunteer Justice Ambassadors word has spread across the UK about the damage that the proposed changes will do to the British justice system and the fabric of our society. For many, legal aid makes the difference between homelessness and a roof over their head, between abuse or exploitation and safety, between being wrongly separated from their family and having a family, between having the support they need to have a fair start in life, and being denied that support and the opportunity for equality it brings, between poverty, desperation, and hope.
The message to Nick Clegg is clear: it is time he stood up to defend access to justice for everyone.
We are delighted that Skin, lead singer from Skunk Anansie, has joined 1,000s of people in signing a postcard to Nick Clegg. Skin is a leading supporter of the campaign recently launched by Eaves Charity, the UK’s leading charity supporting female victims of trafficking, calling for major reforms to be included in a Modern Slavery Bill the government is currently writing.
Human rights defender Bianca Jagger has been among our most high profile supporters supporters since the outset of the campaign. She spoke at the demonstration held outside the Ministry of Justice on 4th June 2013, and appeared on a live debate on Channel 4 news that evening on the legal aid changes. Here she is signing her postcard for justice.
It’s not too late to join us! ….
Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved.
One of the main aims of the Postcards for Justice campaign is to show Nick Clegg that it is not just lawyers who care about legal aid, judicial review and the state of the justice system in our country. The changes that the government are proposing matter to us all.
Some of the most well known public figures from the arts world have signed a postcard to show their concern too. Join them!
Michael Mansfield QC
To see who else has has signed a Postcard for Justice have a look at our previous posts here and here.
Watch this space!
We are working on uploading a bigger gallery of photos of justice ambassadors and people from up and down the UK signing their postcards to Nick Clegg. Watch this space, and in the meantime please carry on sending us your photos, tweeting them or sharing them on facebook. And if you haven’t signed a postcard yet yourself, please just email us and we’ll fix that right away!
To date, the response to our call for Justice Ambassadors has been incredible. Over 200 people have got in touch, asking to become involved in the campaign. We’ve sent packs of postcards to them across the UK, from Scotland to Devon, from Wales to the Channel Islands. Justice Ambassadors are now at work in Northampton, Stafford, Bristol, Blackburn, Oxford, Llangollen, York, Folkestone and many, many more towns and cities talking to colleagues, neighbours, family members, friends and strangers in the street about the brutal cuts to the legal aid system and the changes to judicial review that this government is planning to introduce from the end of this year.
In fact the response has been so positive that we ran out of postcards, and ordered more. We now have plenty for everyone so do get in touch with us if you would like to be a part of this campaign to defend access to justice for all!
The furthest we have dispatched some Postcards for Justice to is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where Noam Chomsky is Professor of Linguistics. Here he is signing his card.
As well as being an award winning actress and screenplay writer, Emma Thompson is also President of the Helen Bamber Foundation, a London based human rights charity that provides therapeutic care, medical consultation, legal and practical support to survivors of human rights violations. She signed a postcard at the launch of the Helen Bamber Foundation’s new office in London a few weeks ago.
You can see read more about the invaluable work of the Helen Bamber Foundation and see more photos of their senior staff signing postcards on their website here.
Join us as an Ambassador if you care about justice
We have thousands more postcards just waiting to be posted out to new Ambassadors. Join us if you believe that all prisoners – not just those who can afford to pay a private lawyer – should be able to access independent legal advice and representation if they are being mistreated in prison, or if they are being separated from their child as a result of being denied a place in a mother and baby unit, or if they are being segregated when they shouldn’t be, for example because they have mental health problems.
Join us if you feel it is wrong that a migrant who is abused by detention centre staff while they are held in immigration detention by the state has no way of obtaining redress and compensation for the abuse they have suffered, only because they have no legal status in the UK, even if that is because they have been trafficked here against their will.
Join us if you think it is wrong that a mother of a young British child should be refused emergency accommodation by the Local Authority when she has become homeless as a result of suffering domestic violence, just because she does not currently have a visa, because she sent her application to the Home Office late, because of the trauma of suffering domestic abuse.
We could go on; these are just a few examples of the impact the proposals will have on vulnerable people. If you care about justice, about ordinary people being able to access independent courts and hold the state to account, please email us at email@example.com. We are asking all Ambassadors to send us their signed postcards by 15th November 2013 so there’s no time to waste!
The Postcards for Justice campaign is well under way now. Over 100 people have got in touch with us asking to act as Justice Ambassadors. A huge thanks to all of you! We’ve sent them all a small pack with the postcards, some key points about how the changes will affect different people, and some suggestions on how to get the most out of being an Ambassador and spreading word about the campaign even further. We’ve even sent them a pre paid envelope so they can return the postcards to us easily and with at no expense. If you want to get involved please email us firstname.lastname@example.org!
Many people have asked to see the final postcard design, so here it is:
Some of you might notice that the text is slightly different from that on the winning design submitted to the Design for Justice competition, which you can see here. This is the back of the card, with room for each person to add a personal message to Nick Clegg.
Our first signed postcard was from Shami Chakrabarti, the Director of Liberty. Liberty have been at the forefront of opposition to the government’s plans to transform legal aid since they were announced in April this year. You can read more about why they believe these “brutal cuts to our legal aid system […] are jeopardising our proud legacy as a nation which believes in justice for all” on their website here. And here’s a link to Shami’s speech at the Rally for Legal Aid on 30th July 2013.
We are also proud that human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is acting as a Justice Ambassador. Peter was on the panel of Judges who chose the winning postcard from the shortlist. We’re glad he’s still supporting the campaign even though his favourite design didn’t win overall!
We still need more Ambassadors to help raise awareness of the devastating impact that the legal aid cuts and the changes to Judicial Review will have on the ability of some of the most vulnerable people in our society to access justice, the quality of criminal defence and the ability of hundred of criminal law firms to continue practising, and the ability of each and every citizen to hold government to account when it acts outside the law.
Please get in touch with us at email@example.com if you would like to get involved!
Following on from the design4justice competition, we have printed 10,000 copies of the winning postcard and we need your help to get as many people as possible to sign them and return them to us by 15th November 2013. We will then deliver them to Nick Clegg in eye catching media ‘stunt’.
We are recruiting ‘ambassadors’ to encourage groups of people to sign the postcards and send them back to us. It will be important that we engage with as many different and broadly representative groups as possible. Mr Clegg is aware that lawyers are very concerned about the proposed cuts to legal aid. But it might surprise him to learn that say higher education students in Sheffield, nurses in Birmingham, teachers in Cardiff etc. are also very concerned.
Legal Aid Needs You!
If you think you can reach groups of people who would be willing to take up this cause, please join us and become a SAVE JUSTICE AMBASSADOR. We will send you an ‘ambassadors’ pack with the post-cards and further details. We will pay for all postage too – so it will be really easy. We would also encourage people to email and/or tweet pictures of them and their groups signing the postcards which we will re-tweet and post on our website.
For now, all you have to do now is tell us your details (including a contact number), and what kind of people/group you think you might be able to get to sign the postcards. Do email us with any questions you may have firstname.lastname@example.org