Barristers’ dispute leads to trial collapse

A man charged with arson was declared not guilty yesterday when his trial collapsed as a result of a dispute over pay for barristers.

In the first trial to be affected by the dispute, Alan Archer, from Worcester, was declared not guilty by the judge after the Crown Prosecution Service failed to find a barrister to prosecute the case.

About 4,000 barristers who do criminal legal aid work in England and Wales have been hit by cuts to their fees, while rates of pay have been frozen for eight years.

As a result they are individually refusing to take on new defence cases and in some places also declining to pick up last-minute cases for the Crown Prosecution Service when a barrister is double-booked.

Members of the Bar, as self-employed individuals, cannot strike or collectively refuse work, but the unprecedented protest amounts to industrial action.

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