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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn urged Theresa May today to keep her promise of tackling “burning injustices” by proving legal aid for the most vulnerable.
Mr Corbyn used Prime Minister’s Questions to highlight cuts to legal aid and the impact they have had on disabled people and those affected by the Windrush scandal.
He said there are now “legal aid deserts across the whole country,” adding that access to justice is vital in order to tackle burning injustices.
The Tory-Lib Dem coalition slashed legal aid funding in 2013, which Mr Corbyn implied had hindered the fight against injustice.
Mr Corbyn said: “The Department for Work and Pensions is failing disabled people. The MoJ has spent tens of millions of pounds each year defending appeals, over two-thirds of which were won by the claimants.
“Rather than spending millions defending incorrect and often immoral decisions, would that money not have been better used increasing poverty-level benefits and providing legal aid to disabled people wrongly denied their basic dignity?
“The Windrush scandal has resulted in the government having to allocate £200 million in compensation to people wrongly deported from this country and denied services, with their lives totally pulled apart.”
Mr Corbyn questioned whether the scandal would have happened if legal aid had been available and so many people had not been denied any representation in court.
Ms May said the question of burning injustices is not just about access to the legal system and accused Mr Corbyn of watering down his anti-racist and Eurosceptic stances in an attempt to provoke and distract ministers.
In response, Mr Corbyn said: “Coming from the Prime Minister who created the hostile environment that brought about the Windrush scandal, who ordered ‘Go home’ vans to drive around London.
“One who refuses to acknowledge Islamophobia in her own party, and whose party consorts with racists and anti-semites in the European Parliament and sucks up to those governments across Europe, we do not need those kinds of lectures.”
The Islington North MP highlighted further legal aid concerns, and said there are people who are “invisible” to the system, adding: “Today in modern Britain, millions are denied justice because they don’t have the money. Isn’t that a disgrace? Isn’t that a burning injustice?”
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