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Access to justice

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.

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? 

Justice turned upside down: victims of wrongful conviction must prove innocence to get compensation

Victor Nealon spent 17 years in prison before his conviction was quashed. The Ministry of Justice is pursuing him for legal costs over his attempt to win compensation.

Legal aid cuts punish poorest tenants

Vulnerable people threatened with eviction and victims of domestic violence are among those being denied access to justice. New research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

‘We changed the law to save children’s lives’

Sometimes campaigning works. How bereaved parents, lawyers, campaigners, one brave teenager (and 30,000 people who signed an online petition) achieved victory.

UK government tries to hide the chaos caused by legal aid cuts

Children and victims of domestic violence are among the losers as more and more people are denied legal representation. 

Human rights — at the government’s discretion

There is more to the Tories’ proposals on human rights and free movement than mere electioneering, argues Frances Webber of the Institute of Race Relations.

What does it take to overturn a miscarriage of justice in the UK?

The old case of Tony Stock shows up much that continues to be wrong in the criminal justice system. For victims of wrongful conviction today, quality representation is increasingly hard to obtain. (See also Stubborn justice: the astonishing case of Tony Stock).

Stubborn justice: the astonishing case of Tony Stock

A new book exposes and challenges the criminal justice system’s reluctance to own up to its mistakes. (See also What does it take to overturn a miscarriage of justice in the UK?)

Rotherham child rape survivor: 'Will you help us now?'

The authorities failed thousands of children raped and beaten in South Yorkshire. One survivor appeals for help for children who are abused.

Homeless, abused, bereaved: when a child needs a lawyer

“When organisations like social services don’t treat you right, if you don’t have anybody, what you gonna do?” Savage cuts to legal aid leave many thousand of vulnerable children in England and Wales without legal representation.

One Man, Two Guvnors: the conflict at the heart of British justice

Yesterday Chris Grayling, who is both Minister of State for Justice (dismantling the legal aid system) and Lord Chancellor (sworn to uphold the rule of law), gave evidence before the House of Commons Justice Committee.

Today MPs vote to end slavery - tomorrow they vote to continue it

One consequence of proposed cuts to legal aid is that children trying to prove they have been trafficked will be denied legal assistance.

Activists call upon Angelina Jolie to meet rape survivors in a UK detention centre

In London, at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, rape survivors protest against the UK government's treatment of women fleeing sexual violence

Bahraini torture survivor resists deportation from Britain

Regardless of the regime's record of arbitrary arrest and torture, the UK Home Office is pursuing the deportation of a 19 year old democracy protestor back to the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Rats in the lunchbox, mould in the mattress: living in squalor in London

In three decades a social welfare advisor has not seen the levels of poverty that are routine today. Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi listens to the stories of Londoners who struggle to survive.

'Neither criminals, nor animals!' A week of unrest in Britain's migrant jails

Lack of legal representation. Poor medical care. Threat of solitary confinement. Immigration detainees in England and Scotland protest against what they claim is routine inhumanity by the state and its commercial contractors.

Time does not always heal: state violence and psychic damage

My partner Alfie Meadows was nearly killed when a police officer hit his head with a truncheon at a demo. After Alfie was charged with 'violent disorder', I was so viscerally angry I stopped being able to feel temperature. Part of Transformation's politics of mental health series.

One life in investigative journalism

A Q&A with Clare Sambrook, OurKingdom co-editor and co-founder of the End Child Detention Now campaign. Interviewer: Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi, writer-in-residence at Lacuna.

Playing politics with prisoners’ access to justice

The UK media has strongly reported the government's punitive restrictions on prisoners receiving books from families and friends. A more dangerous 'reform' excites less attention: the cuts to legal aid for prisoners.

How local is local justice now in England and Wales?

For centuries the relationship between a local magistracy and local populace has mattered. In five years the government has closed 166 courts. A barrister writes.

Child witnesses kept waiting for years: the state of British justice

Court delays cause irreparable damage to children alleging serious sexual abuse. A criminal barrister blames government cuts.

Stripping UK citizenship by stealth

Despite official denials, evidence has emerged that the Home Office has deliberately waited until UK citizens it plans to deprive of their citizenship have left the country. This requires no judicial approval—and greatly hinders any appeal. 

The nasty country? Debating immigration in the UK

A new Bill removes most grounds of appeal for immigration decisions, excludes undocumented migrants from the rental market, turns landlords into immigration police and extends charges for NHS care. On Monday 10 February Lords debated the proposals.

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