Criminals could have their cars seized to cover cost of legal aid
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced his plan to sell off the cars of convicted criminals in an attempt to curb government spending on legal aid.
New powers to seize and sell off the vehicles of convicted criminals could be introduced to help cover the £2 billion legal aid bill for England and Wales.
The scheme looks set to target wealthy criminals who do not pay their bill at the end of the trial.
They could see their cars seized and the proceeds put towards the costs from July.
According to The Telegraph, some £75 million in legal aid has been ordered to be repaid since 2010, but so far just £16 million, about a fifth, has been received, Ministry of Justice figures show.
Other measures include making criminals pay the full cost of their defence if they refuse to cooperate with attempts to assess their income.
Mr Grayling's statement follows a warning from Lord Neuberger - the UK's most senior judge - that cuts to legal aid in civil cases, which will come into effect from April, could make people feel they cannot access justice and could then "take the law into their own hands".
But the Justice Secretary stood by his proposal, saying: "It is scandalous that each year innocent taxpayers pay more than £20 million towards the defence of criminals who can afford to pay for themselves. This cannot be allowed to continue. Legal aid is not free – it is taxpayers' money."
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