In Britain today, a former PR man with no legal training is both Lord Chancellor (obliged to uphold the rule of law) and Justice Secretary, making drastic cuts to legal aid.
On April Fools Day, Chris Grayling’s 53rd birthday, The Guardian will launch a new animated film — Legal Aid Team — to raise awareness of his government’s attack on access to justice.
Maxine Peake, Joanna Lumley, Sally Hawkins, Simon Callow and Kevin Eldon are among actors and comedians whose voices feature in the film, made by Fat Rat Films.
“Most people in the UK understand the importance of a functioning national health service,” says Fred Grace of Fat Rat Films. “They understand that, at any point, they could require its services. Can the same be said of legal aid? No it cannot.”
He says: “We do not have the same concept of ‘it could happen to me’. The narrative that has been propagated by its opponents is that legal aid is a tool for the radical left wing, a prop for terrorists and bogus asylum seekers, a way of making rich lawyers richer. Articles have been written that refute these allegations, but they do not carry enough of a counter narrative. In short they are boring...
“What we need is a new tactic; satire and comedy, a lightness of touch for such a serious issue. We need to make people laugh so they are open to learning and will share this idea with their friends. So we present to you Legal Aid Team!”
The film opens in 1949, with Clement Attlee launching Legal Aid and conveys the devastation of the cuts through an animated superhero adventure.
If you want to contribute to the project, the Legal Aid Team will credit you on their website once the film goes live.