Gove attacks legal system for 'failing' vulnerable victims

Poorest in society are 'at the mercy of this creaking and dysfunctional system', says Justice Secretary

Michael Gove leaves Downing St after losing job as Eductation Secretary
Michael Gove leaves Downing St after losing job as Eductation Secretary
(Image credit: Ben Stansall/AFP)

Justice Secretary Michael Gove is expected to launch an attack on the "creaking" two-tiered legal system today, accusing courts of making crime victims "suffer twice".

Wealthy people from across the world can secure the "finest legal provision in the world" but vulnerable victims are being failed by the justice system, he will warn in his first address in the role.

The Daily Telegraph says the "no-holds barred" speech will put Gove in "direct confrontation" with the legal establishment and indicates that he intends to "tackle the legal system with the same energy he deployed to overhaul schools".

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He is expected to call for a modernisation of criminal courts in England and Wales, and condemn the time it takes for vulnerable victims to receive justice.

"The waste and inefficiency inherent in such a system are obvious. But perhaps even more unforgivable is the human cost," Gove will say to the Legatum Institute in central London.

"It is the poorest in our society who are disproportionately the victims of crime, and who find themselves at the mercy of this creaking and dysfunctional system. Women who have the bravery to report domestic violence, assault and rape; our neighbours who live in those parts of our cities scarred by drug abuse, gangs and people trafficking: these are the people who suffer twice – at the hands of criminals and as a result of our current criminal justice system."

The Justice Secretary will also cite specific examples of failures drawn from his visits to some of England's Crown Courts in the last few weeks.

He will back the court reforms recommended made in January by Sir Brian Leveson, president of the Queen's Bench Division, and say the proposals should be implemented "with all speed".

However, the Telegraph points out that the Coalition faced tough opposition to legal aid budget cuts, and that privately-funded lawyers are "likely to be critical" of Gove's decision to compare them with publicly-funded criminal cases.

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