Challenge to prison law legal aid cuts granted permission

The Court of Appeal has this morning granted permission for two leading prisoners’ rights organisations to challenge the government’s removal of legal aid from prisoners.


The Prisoners’ Advice Service and the Howard League for Penal Reform, represented by Bhatt Murphy solicitors, Phillippa Kauffmann QC and Doughty Street barristers Alex Gask and Martha Spurrier, have challenged the lawfulness of the government’s decision to remove from the scope of criminal legal aid a number of areas of decision making that impact significantly on prisoners’ lives: eligibility for mother and baby units; segregation and placement in Close Supervision Centres; category A reviews; access to offending behaviour courses; resettlement on leaving prison; pre-tariff parole reviews and prison disciplinary hearings.


Following a negative decision from the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal have now granted the Claimants permission to pursue their argument that removing these areas from legal aid creates an unacceptable risk of unfairness – leaving vulnerable prisoners, often with learning difficulties and/or mental health problems, to navigate the complexities of the relevant law and procedure without assistance.


The judicial review challenge will be heard by the Court of Appeal in early 2016.


To view the full judgement please see here.  

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