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The Attack on Legal Aid

We report on Parliamentary resistance to the government's attack on legal aid, and publish leading practitioners on the impact of the cuts.

This work is part of Shine a Light, an investigative project led by award-winning reporter Clare Sambrook.

We welcome contributions.


‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear

Security company G4S housed six families with babies and toddlers in a fire-trap hostel in Halifax.

Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017

A leading advocate calls for an Act of Parliament to enshrine children’s rights in law.

‘If I’d known what to ask for, I wouldn’t have gone hungry’

When Theresa May’s Britain grants asylum, a brutal 28 day countdown starts.

Money talks: Meet three people who want to live in the UK

Government visa fees tell would-be immigrants that in the UK, money talks ...

Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children

“To them it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. But when you’ve got three children being left without their dad …  it’s quite major.”

Fighting to win asylum from rape: the case of Erioth Mwesigwa

Today, Monday 20 February, at 4.30pm, a protest has been called outside the Home Office against the removal and detention of Erioth Mwesigwa, a rape survivor from Uganda.

The end of domestic violence support for black and brown women in the UK?

Dedicated refuges were created to answer a desperate need. Now their survival is at risk. 

Iraq abuse allegations: Resist, deny, hide

Theresa May has made it clear she intends to follow previous governments in tarnishing Iraq abuse allegations as false. Final day of our 7 day series.

British torture in Iraq and the state’s ‘corporate memory loss’

Hooding, sensory deprivation, stress positions. . . methods used illegally in 1970s Northern Ireland are deployed again. (Day 5 of our 7 day series).

From war to occupation in Iraq

The fall of Saddam Hussein and the death of Baha Mousa. (Day 4 of our 7 day series)

The Chilcot Report and the Politics of the Iraq War

Why, in our democracy, is there so little appetite for proper public scrutiny? (Day 3 of our 7 day series)

A drowned boy, an apology, an attack on ‘activist, left-wing human rights lawyers’

Today we explore the death of Ahmed Jabbar Kareem Ali. (Day 2 of our 7 day series) 

A conspiracy cooked up by ‘activist left-wing human rights’ lawyers?

Government and media have denied, dismissed and derided allegations of abuse by British soldiers in Iraq. Over 7 days we’ll interrogate a very British scandal. Day 1: Attack the lawyers.

Delayed lives — the hidden misery of stateless people locked up in the UK

Alienated, homeless, denied the right to work, criminalised.

Theresa May's dangerous record on immigration

Theresa May's time as home secretary was marked by the further marginalisation of immigrants in this society. In a diverse nation, it's worrying that such a person becomes prime minister.

Ghosted away: UK’s secret removal flights examined

On Home Office flights private sector guards apply restraints so extreme they are very rarely used in prisons. What happened on the 24/25 May flight to Nigeria and Ghana?

Asylum seekers with red doors are still being targeted by racists

Regardless of government orders and promises to Parliament, UK property company Jomast carries on putting asylum tenants at risk.

On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death

A leaked document reveals that an NHS England Trust knew of failings 10 months before a young man died in its care.

The UK government’s inversion of accountability

What to make of a government that increasingly excuses its actions from legal accountability while demanding more and more accountability from citizens? 

Remembering Sarah Reed

Beaten by a Metropolitan police officer in 2012. Found dead in a prison cell in 2016. Sarah Reed, a black woman, mother, daughter, sister, whose smile could light up a room.

Shine A Light writer Jenny McCall wins Anti-Slavery Day media award

Story exposing UK government’s failures to protect victims of trafficking judged “best news piece” on modern slavery.

Transforming the lives of women in trouble

Jobs, safe housing, childcare support. That’s what women need. Not prison.

Human rights, why should I care? Thalidomide and other stories

Three real life cases from RightsInfo illuminate why human rights matter.

Prison, a treacherous place for a child

Thirty-three children have died in English child prisons since 1990. A powerful new book exposes how Britain’s most vulnerable children are routinely damaged by the state. 

Human rights, why should I care? More real life stories

The state took three lives. A hospital discharged a suicidal young woman. The police unlawfully tapped a man’s phone. Three stories from RightsInfo:

Human rights, why should I care? Real life stories

Victims of the black cab rapist were not believed. A man who suffered a miscarriage of justice could not speak to journalists. Four children suffered abuse and neglect. Three stories from RightsInfo:

Why are so many people being evicted in Coalition Britain?

Caught in a collision of unemployment, precarious jobs and reduced public services. Part three of our series on the housing crisis: Losing your home.

Losing your home: Simon’s story

After caring for his elderly mother a 50-year-old builder faces eviction from a council flat. Part two of our three part series on Coalition Britainhousing crisis.

Losing your home: one day at Coventry County Court

Growing numbers of working class people face the nightmare of eviction. Part one of a three part series on housing in Coalition Britain. 

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, openDemocracy writer, shortlisted for Orwell Prize

Reporter who takes time to listen acutely to people at the sharp end of government policy is one of six shortlisted for political journalism prize.

Why access to Justice is not yet an election issue and must be debated

The evidence suggests that people care about access to justice. Politicians should listen to the people.

Dying for Justice: black and minority ethnic deaths in custody

509 suspicious deaths of people from BME, migrant and asylum seeker communities in state custody over 23 years. Five prosecutions. Not one single conviction. A chilling report from the Institute of Race Relations.

Treating kids in trouble like adults isn’t justice

In youth justice, time and again, adults let children down, says Just for Kids Law.

openDemocracy writers longlisted for Orwell Prize

Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Clare Sambrook are among 15 writers in contention for one of journalism’s highest honours.

Superheroes alert UK voters to attack on legal aid

Actors, comedians and film-makers raise awareness of devastating cuts.

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