A JUDGE has publicly apologised to a man who could not be sentenced for a wounding offence because of industrial action by lawyers.

Increasing numbers of offences are being delayed or adjourned because defendants do not have legal representation.

Solicitors are refusing to represent new clients in a dispute over legal aid cuts and are being supported in the crown courts by barristers.

Some defendants are even having to represent themselves in bail applications.

The Ministry of Justice claims that courts are sitting normally, but judges and barristers at Bradford Crown Court are growing increasingly concerned about the administration of justice there.

Yesterday, Judge Mark Savill apologised to a Rastrick man for his "wasted trip" after he was brought from prison to Bradford Crown Court to be sentenced, but the hearing could not go ahead because of the industrial action by barristers.

James Marriott, 26, was arrested last December after a 35-year-old man was injured during an incident at a house in Bradford Road, Brighouse.

The complainant was thought to have been taken to hospital with "non life-threatening injuries" after police attended in the early hours of the morning.

Marriott, of Tile Terrace, Rastrick, admitted a wounding charge in May and was due to be sentenced at Bradford Crown Court yesterday, but the protest by barristers meant his case had to be adjourned for a week.

Judge Savill explained to Marriott that he had asked for him to be brought into court so he could offer him an apology for the delay.

The industrial action has led to barristers not covering cases for colleagues and Judge Savill explained that Marriott's barrister was not able to attend for the hearing.

"Obviously the message didn't get through to the prison in time and you have been brought and I am sorry," said Judge Savill.

A senior barrister who works at Bradford Crown Court, who has asked not to be identified, said defendants were appearing without legal representation, with defendants not fully understanding what was going on and judges unable to establish the issues in cases.

She said more trials were being timetabled and there would be further delays at the plea and case management hearing stage because defendants would either still not be represented or their lawyers would not have been able to study case papers.

She said defendants were having to make bail applications without knowledge of the Bail Act, and more were being remanded in custody.

"It is right to say that courts are continuing to call on hearings, but nothing is being done in the usual way," she added.

"The aim of the action being taken is to ensure the continued provision of legal aid representation for defendants who are quite often vulnerable, and to ensure everybody has a choice of representation."

Asked by the T&A about the current problems at Bradford Crown Court, the Ministry of Justice would only issue a statement first released by it at the start of the dispute a month ago.

It said: "The changes we are making to criminal legal aid are designed to deliver value for money to taxpayers and do not impact on the availability of high quality legal advice to those who need it most. Although we recognise that the transition will be challenging for lawyers, these changes will put the profession on a sustainable footing for the long term.

"We have already pledged that an independent review looking at the impact of the new arrangements will begin in July 2016."