Woman abused as legal aid system fails

Published: Wed 15 Nov 2006 10:43 AM
Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman
15 November 2006
Woman abused as legal aid system fails
National Party Associate Justice spokeswoman Kate Wilkinson is calling on the Justice Minister to face up to the crisis in legal aid following claims that a woman has been abused after the system failed her.
“For months, Mark Burton has denied there is any issue with lawyers shunning legal aid work. He is irresponsible and he is wrong.”
Ms Wilkinson says there are now claims that the Government’s “head in the sand” approach has been a contributing factor in at least one case of domestic abuse.
“Even one woman abused because the Government is too stubborn to accept there’s a problem is one too many. I’m sure it’s not an isolated case.”
Ms Wilkinson is referring to comments from Marlborough Women’s Refuge advocate Rachel Black who says of the abused woman’s case; “… as soon as her ex-partner said he was going to defend the protection order, then she needed a lawyer to act for her. There was no one in Blenheim that could act for her and she had to use the services of a Nelson lawyer, so she actually ended up withdrawing her protection order which put her in a very vulnerable position and actually since then she has been abused again.”
“This is an issue that has been swirling around for months. Women’s Refuges have been saying that women are giving up on protection orders because they cannot face the prospect of representing themselves in court.
“Mr Burton says it’s only ‘anecdotal’. That is insulting.”
“This horrific story makes an absolute mockery of any claim that Labour might make about taking a tough line on domestic violence.”

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