Chalk hails courts charge climbdown

Alex Chalk MP has welcomed the decision of the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, to scrap the criminal courts charge.

 

The controversial charge, launched by the then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, requires convicted criminals in England and Wales to pay a charge of between £150 and £1,200 towards the cost of their case.

 

The charge is paid on top of fines, compensation orders and defendants' own legal charges, and is higher for those convicted after pleading not guilty. It is set according to the type of case, with the minimum charge for magistrates' courts and the maximum level for crown court cases.

 

But MPs on the influential Justice Committee, which Cheltenham’s MP sits on, published a report in November in which they said the fee, which is not means-tested, created "serious problems". The cross-party group's chairman, Conservative MP Bob Neill, said they evidence they had received raised "grave misgivings" about the fee's benefits and whether it was "compatible with the principles of justice".

 

Alex Chalk said: “I am delighted by this decision. This charge was introduced with the best of intentions, but it hasn’t worked out as planned. Early indications are that precious little has been collected, and it ties the hands of judges and magistrates, including those serving in our own court here in Cheltenham. This announcement is good for justice, and very welcome.”