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Legal aid: Leading chambers to close due to cuts

A leading human rights barristers' chambers is to close, citing the recent cuts to the legal-aid budget as the sole cause, reports The Independent.

Tooks Court Chambers, headed by Michael Mansfield QC, is one of the UK's leading human rights chambers, having led the inquiries into the deaths of Stephen Lawrence and Princess Diana.

The chambers announced that it will begin the process of dissolution almost immediately, and cited the recent cuts to the provision of legal-aid services as the main reason for the decision. It is thought the Chambers will still accept cases until early October. 

Legal-aid services were significantly cut back in April this year, with an estimated £350m trimmed from the annual £2bn legal-aid budget.

The main victims were family law and divorce cases, but legal aid was also removed from employment law cases, as well as housing matters, debt and immigration.

Now the Government is consulting on plans to trim an additional £220m through amendments to the way legal aid is offered in criminal cases.

In a statement Tooks Chambers said that the decision to close was a result of government policies.

"The dissolution of Chambers is the direct result of government policies on legal aid. The public service we provide is dependent on public funding," the statement read.

"The government policies led by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling are cumulatively devastating the provision of legal services and threatening the rule of law," it continued.

It is thought that several lawyers from Tooks will form a new chambers in the coming weeks, headed by Michael Mansfield QC and called Mansfield Chambers.