JUSTICE started late in York for dozens of defendants as barristers and solicitors refused to attend court yesterday.

Members of the Criminal Bar did not appear at York Crown Court until the afternoon and solicitors took a training day.

Both the crown court and York Magistrates Court timetabled cases to start after the end of the industrial action at 2pm.

The lawyers were protesting against Government proposals to cut criminal legal aid and claim they are the latest in a series of cuts that are leading to barristers with years of experience abandoning work in criminal law.

John Elvidge QC, leader of the North-Eastern Circuit, and head of Dere Street Chambers, which includes York’s only barrister chambers, said: “If the current legal aid proposals are implemented the inevitable loss of quality advocates will increase the likelihood of miscarriages of justice occurring: of criminals escaping punishment and innocent men, women and children being convicted. In those cases, access to justice will have been denied and the pain suffered by the victims of injustice, and their families, will be a source of shame to our legal system.”