UK judge halts fraud case after defendants fail to find lawyers willing to represent them

A British judge has halted a complex fraud case because the five defendants couldn't find lawyers willing to represent them under new rates offered by the government for legal aid.

Judge Anthony Leonard's decision Thursday could have wider ramifications for the country's courts, with several fraud cases in danger of collapse if lawyers refuse to accept the new rate structure.

Alex Cameron, the brother of the prime minister, represented the defendants on a pro-bono basis to argue that they could not get a fair trial under the circumstances.

Britain's government has slashed billions from public spending in the name of deficit reduction. But the Criminal Bar Association has argued that the new rates will discourage attorneys from taking criminal cases, where defendants often rely on state funding for representation.