Cameron reshuffle brings critic of legal aid cuts into ministry of justice

Cameron reshuffle brings critic of legal aid cuts into ministry of justice

The Guardian

Owen Bowcott, Legal Affairs Correspondent

New Conservative minister Helen Grant criticised coalition policy on Guardian website last year

One of the new ministerial appointees to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has previously been highly critical of the government’s key policy decision to axe £350m from the civil legal aid budget.

Helen Grant, Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald, practised as a legal aid solicitor for 20 years and established her own firm in Croydon helping clients through family and social welfare cases. On Tuesday, she was made a justice minister.

Writing for the Guardian’s law website last year, as the green paper on legal aid began its passage through the Commons, Grant declared: “Our country’s financial health is a priority, but not at the cost of basic social justice.

“It cannot be right that those most in need of support are left without it … We must ensure we protect those most vulnerable here at home and treat this debate with the care it deserves.” She eventually voted for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act after it was altered through successive amendments.

Grant, 50, who has a Nigerian father and English mother, should be able to defend herself ably in political infighting: she was under-16 judo champion for the north of England and Scotland. She was briefly a member of the Labour party before becoming the Conservative party’s first black female MP. She has worked with Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice…

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