Manchester barrister on strike claims he earned 49p per hour during trial

Video report by Granada Reports correspondent Elaine Willcox.

A barrister who is among thousands across the UK who have staged a walkout amid a dispute over legal aid funding, has claimed he earned 49p an hour during one of his trials.

Dozens of barristers, dressed in their wigs and gowns, turned out at Manchester Crown Court on Monday, 27 June, to protest against pay and workload.

They claim the justice system in the UK is "broken" as they take part in strike action held across several days, over the coming weeks.

The government say the strike action is 'delaying justice for victims'. Credit: ITV News

Aarif Abraham, a barrister in Manchester, told ITV News that the rate of pay for barristers is "unsustainable" and is having huge implications on the justice system.

He said: "I have done cases where, when you've added in the preparation work, often which you don't get paid for, you could be earning in certain cases 49p an hour.

"That's a real case that I've done in the past. That's not just unsustainable, it's unfair and discriminatory and has huge impacts on the rule of law and the criminal justice system.

"Barristers cannot live sustainably on that level of pay."

The minimum wage for workers over the age of 23 or over in the UK is £9.50 (as of June 2022).

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, said around 81.5% of more than 2,000 members who voted in the ballot supported walking out of court.

Dozens of barristers turned out in Manchester to strike. Credit: ITV News

As part of the strike, they will refuse to accept new cases and to carry out “return work” – stepping in and picking up court hearings and other work for colleagues whose cases are overrunning.

Dominic Raab said the barrister strikes are 'regrettable' and will 'only delay justice for victims'.

In a statement released ahead of the first day of strikes, the Justice Secretary said: "It’s regrettable that the Criminal Bar Association is striking, given only 43.5% of their members voted for this particular, most disruptive, option.

"I encourage them to agree the proposed 15% pay rise which would see a typical barrister earn around £7,000 more a year. Their actions will only delay justice for victims."

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