The prime minister has been urged once more to abandon the plans of his government for no win no fee legal agreement reforms by the parents of Madeleine McCann, according to recent reports.
In their first public political intervention, Kate and Gerry McCann have joined several high-profile tabloid newspaper victims and libel reform campaigners in order to warn David Cameron off from his plans to reform the conditional fee arrangements that no win no fee lawyers rely upon to provide individuals without deep pockets with access to justice.
The warning comes in the form of a letter, delivered in time before the House of Lords’ third reading of the new legal aid bill, a proposed piece of legislation that has seen its downfall nine times already through amendments made by peers. The McCanns are joined by other tabloid victims such as Christopher Jefferies, who prevailed against eight different newspapers stemming from libelous statements printed about him during the inquiry into Joanna Yeats, and marks the first time that Madeleine’s parents have come forward to make their concerns known about the legal reforms to injury claims proposed by the government.
The letter was co-ordinated by the Libel Reform Campaign and Hacked Off, an organisation that has campaigned for public inquiries to be made into phone hacking. Both groups have protested abut the proposed £350 million in cuts from the annual legal aid budget for the Ministry of Justice, claiming that a reconfiguration of conditional fee agreements will prevent claimants from being able to afford to employ lawyers, as the reforms will no longer provide for them to recover their lawyers’ success fees and expensive insurance premiums from losing defendants; winning claimants will instead see their damages awards reduced in order to pay for the legal fees and court costs.