Speaking to the Justice Alliance in November 2013, Simon Hughes MP said that he was personally not persuaded that the government has the right to introduce the residence test. He said that he would make the point to Government that to exclude people who do not have a perfect right of residence is not legitimate and he would argue strongly for that whether it relates to Yarl’sWood or those who have come illegally or overstayed or don’t have second status. His reference to Yarl’s Wood referred to a letter he was give from two women sexually assaulted by male staff employed by Yarl’s Wood who relied upon legal aid and would be excluded under current proposals. They stated under current proposals they would never have had assistance from a lawyer to challenge the investigations conducted by Serco and UKBA, to seek redress for the harm done and to help bring these issues to public awareness. They stated “Without legal aid lawyers it is much less likely that the authorities would be held to account.”
Since becoming Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties, little has been heard from Simon Hughes or indeed the LibDems in opposition to Chris Grayling’s devastating cuts to legal aid.