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Thousands of barristers have chosen not to attend proceedings at courts in cities across the country today in an unprecedented walk-out by members of the criminal bar.
Barristers and solicitors went on "strike" in cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.
The nationwide protest, in response to Government plans to cut fees as part of a bid to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget by 2018/19, is the first in the history of the criminal bar.
Lawyers' strikes over legal aid disputes have resulted in the unusual situation of two defendants appearing in court without the assistance of their solicitors.
Jurors in the case of brothers Muhammed Saeed Ahmed and Muhammed Naeem Ahmed were reminded by Old Bailey judge Gerald Gordon that the "lonely" courtroom was a result of strikes taking place across the country today over cuts to the service.
The legal benches in courtroom 16 were left completely vacant, with only the judge, jury, two defendants, one security guard, three members of the press and one detective present.
The brothers, aged 21 and 20 and from Bradford, deny a charge of conspiring together and with others to attend a place used for terrorist training.
According to the Criminal Bar Association and Bar Council, the average barrister earns around £36,000 or £27,000 respectively, once tax and expenses are accounted for.
Prospects.co.uk, the UK's official graduate careers website, say that typical salaries for barristers in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) range between £30,000-£90,000 per year.
According to Chambers Student, a careers guide for the legal profession, says a barrister would be expected to earn between £40,000 - £70,000 per year after five years' practice.
However, those figures do not include deductions to cover V.A.T., chambers fees, pension provision, travelling and other expenses, a spokesperson for Chambers told ITV News.
The Criminal Bar Association has insisted today's action will not jeopardise trials, but warned that future trials could be at risk if the issue was not resolved.
It has been careful to call the walk out a "non-attendance" rather than a strike.
There will also be protests outside courts in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.
The Bar Standards Board has warned that any barristers who stay away from court will almost certainly be in breach of their professional code of conduct with "very serious consequences".
The Ministry of Justice says that funding for legal aid will remain "very generous" even after the planned cuts.
It highlighted figures showing 1,200 barristers judged to be working full time on taxpayer-funded criminal work received £100,000 each in fee income last year.
Six barristers picked up more than £500,000 each, it said.
But the Criminal Bar Association and Bar Council contest the statistics arguing that when tax and expenses are accounted for, the average barrister earns closer to £36,000 or £27,000 respectively.
Criminal courts across England and Wales will be "effectively inoperable" this morning as barristers walk out in protest at government cuts to legal aid.
Criminal Bar Association chair Nigel Lithman said the "strike" had the backing of almost every chambers and said he expected "solid support" for the unprecedented action.
He accused Justice Secretary Chris Grayling of "manipulating" official figures to falsely portray lawyers doing criminal aid work as high-earning "fat cats".
The Government plans to cut fees as part of a bid to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget by 2018/19 - slashing them by as much as 30% in the longest and most complex cases.
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Criminal Barristers stood outside court to argue cuts to legal aid due in April will reduce the quality of our criminal justice system.