Defendant tells Londonderry Court "solicitor on strike"

A defendant has told Londonderry Crown Court "my solicitor is on strike," as a dispute escalates over legal aid fees in Northern Ireland.

The client appeared in court without representation on Thursday after his lawyer stopped working on the case.

Last month Justice Minister David Ford announced cuts to legal aid which he said would save £18m.

But solicitors have said the changes will leave them unable to prepare Crown Court cases properly.

Pearse MacDermott from the Solicitor's Criminal Bar Association said the case was one of a number of actions taking place.

"Solicitors feel that they cannot properly represent their clients on the fees being offered to them by the Justice Minister and by the court service in relation to the new crown court scheme," he said.

"The basis of the action is that solictors will not be appearing in the Crown Court across the North in any jurisdiction.

"We believe that clients should have representation but because of the way the Minister has dealt with this we have to withdraw our services."

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