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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.


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.

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.

openDemocracy 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.

Just how badly does the UK protect victims of trafficking?

The government claims its Modern Slavery Bill, that passed into law today, is proof that it cares about victims. So why are anti-trafficking processes letting victims down?

Yarl’s Wood: legal black hole

Women in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre have become increasingly desperate as repeated rounds of legal aid cuts introduced by the UK Government have made it more difficult for them to access justice.

Defending the rule of law against the UK government’s ‘slash and burn’

Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, sworn to uphold the rule of law, hurtles down the road towards injustice for victims and defendants.

On the eve of Magna Carta’s 800th birthday, the British legal system is being ripped apart

A protest march against the Global Law Summit in London symbolises the relevance of the Magna Carta.

Super-rich boss vs abused maid: whose side are we on?

The UK government makes it easy for the super-rich to harm their domestic employees. One small amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill could make a big difference, but ministers seem strangely reluctant.

Child locked up ‘by mistake’ for 62 days at adult immigration jail

  • New report from HM Inspectorate of Prisons on Campsfield House, run by outsourcer Mitie, reveals:
  • • 16 year old detained ‘by mistake’
  • • Torture victims held in defiance of Home Office rules
  • • Dirty, overcrowded accommodation

Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State

An inquest gives families and the public a chance to find out what led to a person’s death. Agents of the state may be represented by publicly funded lawyers. What about families? 

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