Legal aid decision for Shamima Begum allows the Tories to give free rein to their hypocrisy

Hypocrite: Jeremy Hunt.

I can’t say I’m happy that the UK is likely to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on legal aid for Shamima Begum’s bid to regain her citizenship.

As you know if you read my previous work on this subject, I subscribe to the belief that Ms Begum knew exactly what she was doing when she left the UK to join a terrorist organisation (Islamic State) that wants to end the way of life enjoyed by citizens of this country, and I think her plea to be returned to the UK – at our expense – was motivated only by the fact that IS appeared about to be wiped off the map.

It’s the prevailing belief across the UK but proved controversial in some parts of the Internet, where critics suggested my view was racist and ignored the grooming (wrong word – they meant radicalisation) of innocent people into supporting terrorism.

It seems to me that there’s only one way to find out who’s right – and that is to have all the relevant information aired in a court of law.

So I reluctantly support the provision of legal aid in this single case.

But I object to the Tory hypocrisy about it.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme (April 15), foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt justified the decision to grant legal aid by saying: “We are a country that believes that people with limited means should have access to the resources of the state if they want to challenge the decisions the state has made about them and, for obvious reasons, those decisions are made independent from politicians.”

That’s two falsehoods in one sentence.

The Conservatives certainly do not believe people with limited means should have access to state resources to challenge state decisions.

And they don’t want those decisions to be made independently.

The Conservative Party has cut legal aid to members of the public by 20 per cent – severely restricting access to justice.

The Tories’ Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act of 2012 cut the legal aid budget by £350 million and ended the right to legal representation in large areas of the law on divorce, child custody, clinical negligence, welfare, employment, immigration, housing, debt, benefit and education.

Amnesty International said the cuts had created a “two-tier” system that denied the poorest people access to justice.

Particularly hard-hit have been people with disabilities; the total number of disabled people granted legal aid in welfare cases has plummeted from 29,801 in 2011-12 to just 308 in 2016-17.

And this is exactly as the Tories wanted it.

Back in 2013, I wrote:

“This vindictive government of millionaires intends to make it impossible for the poorest and most vulnerable in society to seek legal redress against cruel and unwarranted decisions that will withdraw from them the money they use to keep themselves a hairs-breadth away from destitution.

“It is a decision to attack the poor for the fun of it.”

So when Jeremy Hunt tells the BBC, in all his hypocrisy, that “we are a country that believes that people with limited means should have access to the resources of the state if they want to challenge the decisions the state has made about them”, then we – the country – know he is excluding his government from that statement.

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No Comments

  1. MrJeff3 April 16, 2019 at 5:23 am - Reply

    hmmm were does one start justice for the poor taken away by this gov tribunals monies taken away from them work after being on low wages and then sacked by your callous boss one must find a warrant of monies that you can’t find justice hay but you find that you just take this now grown up woman to allow her to have justice while the peasants none yet if she wings her way back here then she cantle about those head in the bins and so on then we get her friends having ideas it goes on but while this rascal of isis wants back in no no no has my grandmother use to say u made your bed now lay in it

  2. nmac064 April 16, 2019 at 6:48 am - Reply

    Jeremy Hunt certainly knows all about having access to State funds. The first time he was caught embezzling expenses he claimed not to have understood the rules. The second time he was caught cheating he claimed it was an “honest mistake”. This corrupt character doesn’t know what honest means.

  3. Brad Bell April 16, 2019 at 9:14 am - Reply

    It’s disturbing that from one week to the next, we collectively seem happy to ditch sovereignty, democracy, human rights, refugee rights, ambassadorial rights, citizenship rights, the right to a trial, the rights of medics to save lives of prisoners shot by snipers in the world’s largest open air prison without being extra-judicially executed, etc. (Venezuela, Assange, Begum, Palestinian medics). I think it’s called the march of fascism. Let us cheer and mock the victims!

    (Not a criticism of VoxPol. Thanks for standing up for humanity and civilisation)

  4. Brian Hanson April 16, 2019 at 10:05 am - Reply

    When Ms Begum went off to Syria she was a child. Had she consented to sex, she would be deemed innocent and a victim of statutory rape. To suggest therefore that she knew what she was doing when agreeing to join IS is equally untenable and a juvenile decision for which she cannot reasonably be punished. To withdraw her citizenship is a clear violation of her human rights. She must be presumed innocent unless and until she is convicted for subsequent direct compliance in activities that caused the death of British troops.

  5. Florence April 16, 2019 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    We have to accept that if there is to be any semblence of justice there must be legal aid. The Secret Barrister has made the point, we have legal aid for those accused of criminal acts. If we begin to try to decide who is worthy or unworthy of legal representation then we become like those who have already denied legal aid to the poorest under the Tories. I cannot subscribe to the view that we should resent any money spent on justice, where it has already become fragile through ideological battering.

  6. Jill Darbyshire. April 16, 2019 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    This is disgusting when people denied the right to benefits they have paid towards in this country have been stopped from getting legal aid when they take the DWP to a tribunal.

  7. joanna April 16, 2019 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    I have since changed my mind, if she comes back she should work off the cost by going round to every school in the UK and talk to teenagers about her experience of the dangers of propaganda and brainwashing, and what she went through.

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