Silk actress Maxine Peake protests against legal aid cuts with barristers in Westminster

The star of the legal drama joined hundreds of barristers in wigs and gowns, bearing a giant puppet of justice minister Chris Grayling


Silk actress Maxine Peake got involved in some real-life legal drama today, joining barristers at Westminster to protest against the government’s £220 million cut in legal aid, which lawyers say will force hundreds of firms to close across the country. 


The 39-year-old, who plays QC Martha Costello in the BBC1 legal drama said the proposals could leave disadvantaged people without legal protection. 

“We can’t allow justice to become a luxury available only to the rich,” said Peake. “We have to send a message to this Government that we will no longer stand for their ferocious bullying of the poor.”

“It’ll mean if somebody’s son or daughter gets accused, it’s remortgaging houses, it’s people losing the right to justice,” Peake told BBC News outside Westminster. “It will have dramatic effects on the individual and dramatic effects on barristers. A barrister now starting out – twelve grand a year. People will not be able to survive.” 

Today’s demonstration was also attended by former Blur drummer and solicitor David Rowntree and is the second time lawyers have walked out over the cuts after causing widespread disruption with their first protest back in January.

Peake currently stars opposite Rupert Penry Jones and Neil Stuke in the legal drama Silk, airing on Monday nights (9pm, BBC1) and following the fortunes of a barrister chambers.