No cuts in Legal Aid for Asylum Seekers

In yet another indication of its insane set of priorities in these times of severe financial difficulty, the UK’s Justice Minister’s announcement that the legal aid budget would be cut by 25% from £2.4 billion contained within it the stipulation that legal aid for asylum cases would not be cut.  This follows Wednesday the 17th November’s announcement that unspecified millions of pounds are to be paid to former detainees in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Drilled by the Home Office, the media have taken to describing the to-be-compensated detainees as “British” citizens or long-term residents.  The most prominent among them, Binyam Mohamed, is neither.  He is an Ethiopian national, whose claim to asylum was refused, having come perfectly normally from the USA in 1998 with his father who then abandoned him (see post of December 30th 2009).  He was however in June 2010 granted leave to remain in the UK, following an application which his lawyers attempted to keep secret. The reasons for granting leave to remain and the officials who granted it are currently the subject of a Freedom of Information request (see post by Vindex of October 17th 2010).

Nothing shows up the pathetic bumbling character of the British political class more than these two related issues.

The Anglo world generally is afflicted by the disease of political correctness (PC) but only Britain has the Court of Appeal, membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998.

The United States government and justice system brushed aside Mohamed’s and the other detainees’ claims for compensation for torture and illegal detention allegedly inflicted on them by variously the Pakistani, Moroccan and United States authorities.  Needless to say no appeal for compensation has been made by the former detainees to the first two of these three countries.  No, on the basis of supposition and wild allegations they claim that the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service was somehow “complicit” in their alleged torture by allegedly requesting the US to ask them some questions related to the actual atrocity in London of 7th July 2005.  One would have thought that if these people had the slightest moral commitment to the country they are now suing for not helping them in Guantanamo Bay, they would have offered such information willingly and without coercion.

So why does not the British government simply do what the Americans have done, with even more justification, and simply brush aside these monstrous claims on the British public purse?

Through the fog of obfuscating words from Ken Clarke, the UK Justice Minister in the House of Commons on November 17, the truth appears to be as it usually is with British politicians – fear, in this case fear of multiple court cases backed by the human rights asylum industry and the prospect of sonorous judgements from the Appeals Courts about the detainees’ “human rights”.  Now the vast majority of British people would say why don’t we cut legal aid for asylum seekers altogether so that in particular these Guantanamo ex-detainees would not have the means to sue the government.  That would solve another problem at the same time, as it would save much needed money for instance for helping poor people pursue claims of medical negligence – which under Clarke’s cuts will no longer eligible for legal aid.  Why should the British people pay, possibly up to half a billion pounds per year, to be tormented by an army of lawyers in the Human Rights industry?

Over the next few months Britain-Watch will be devoting a series of articles to the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998, its baleful consequences for national self-respect and the happiness of British citizens, and its replacement by what might provisionally be termed the British Citizens’ Rights and Duties Act.  Meantime all readers are cordially invited to let us have their thoughts.  Other countries’ experience of human rights legislation would be particularly welcome.

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