COURT proceedings in Winchester came to a grinding halt as barristers walked out in protest at Government cuts.

In an unprecedented move, lawyers across the county refused to defend or prosecute cases scheduled for Monday morning.

Members of the bar are furious at the coalition’s attempt to slash the UK’s annual £1bn legal bill and say the very future of justice in the UK is at stake. They launched a last-ditch attempt to halt cuts of up to 25 per cent off legal aid fees, which they say will have far reaching consequences.

In a statement read outside Winchester Crown Court, James Newton-Price, a barrister at Pump Court Chambers, spoke on behalf of the Western Circuit, which has around 1,000 members across Hampshire and the South West.

He said: “A lot of damage is being done to your justice system in your name. There is time – just – for the Government to pull back from the brink.”