The Innocence Tax and how Democracy is undermined

There has been a series of articles on Channel Four News on the experiences of ‘The Secret Barrister’ – and of course there is a book of the same name.

This illustrates the straight injustice for potentially any one of us when the state refuses to fund adequately our defence – not to mention the legal system itself.

Indeed I would suggest that it has been completely overlooked by those, like me, that want more Universal Basic Services – a Universal Legal Service should – if Parliamentary Laws are to mean anything at all, actually be an inherent part of our democracy.

It is amazing that both the book and the study do not consider this. For, when our ‘Parliamentary democracy’ gives us rights they should surely give us ipso facto, the right to enforce them. Without that are they actually rights at all?

We have the appalling ‘innocence tax’ outlined in this video, purely because government fundamentally does not recognise the obligations it has towards those it has legislated for, which is a gross failure, I suggest, of understanding of democratic principles.

Of course government is worried about more recent problems including the disastrous delay in bringing cases to court – all because of austerity – and now exacerbated by Covid-19.

Combined, the magistrates’ and crown courts now have more than 524,000 cases waiting to be heard and the number is still rising.

This is not justice.

And proclaiming prolonged prison sentences for some offences is not justice either. If cases take two years or more to come to trial then that is not justice for the victim – however long the prison sentence is for the perpetrator.

Below is a heart – rending message received by the ‘Secret Barrister’. which indicates that not only is the system broken for those seeking justice, it is also completely broken for those trying to work for its delivery:

In old-fashioned parlance, the purpose of a state is defence and justice.*

The current government is actually failing on both and very especially the last.

*Those were the days when money was thought to be based on precious metals…


  1. B. Gray -

    I recall many years ago a popular conservative talk radio host in the U.S. was bemoaning animal rights activists. His argument was that animals don’t have any “rights”, because they are unable to lay claim to those rights themselves. At its core, his argument was there were in fact no “inalienable” rights, only rights established through human law, and which can be protected only through one’s ability to access the prevailing justice system.

    This argument of course precludes animal rights, but it also precludes the rights of those with limited or no access to our justice system due to economic, racial, and system barriers. While we may have equal rights in theory, actual rights are as unequal and unjust as the economic system that underpins what passes for today’s modern democracies.

    1. Peter May -

      Agree entirely

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