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Statement on legal aid for Shamima Begum

Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) notes the media reports stating that legal aid funding will be granted to Shamima Begum, the Bethnal Green schoolgirl who travelled to Syria to join ISIS at the age of 15.

YLAL staunchly believes that public funding should be available to all those who cannot afford to pay for their own legal advice and representation. Access to justice is a fundamental human right, and a crucial component of the rule of law in our democratic society.

In order to make access to justice effective and equal, legal aid must be available to all – subject to appropriate financial means tests – irrespective of any crimes of which they are accused. This is particularly important in cases such as this, where a British citizen has had her citizenship revoked by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.

Stripping a person of their citizenship is one of the most drastic steps that any government can take against its citizens. It is vital that a citizen has the right to challenge that decision in court, and that they should be granted public funding for legal representation where they are unable to afford it themselves.

Read our full statement below.

 

YLAL publish social mobility report

In line with the government's 'national crusade' on social mobility, YLAL has carried out its own investigations within the legal aid sector. Our report shows that fears that the legal aid sector could become pale and stale, as predicted by YLAL representative Kat Craig at our question time, look set to materialise. Download our social mobility report below.

Read article in Law Society Gazette here

Magee review: YLAL response

The Ministry of Justice has announced yet another review of legal aid, the Magee review. See http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/newsrelease131009a.htm

YLAL includes both criminal and civil practitioners. We welcome any endeavour to protect both the civil and criminal budgets. But we continue to believe that there should be no cap. Rather, adequate access to justice for both those with civil and criminal legal problems must be available when needed and administered by a truly independent body.