People of the 'Windrush generation' do not need legal aid to help sort out their immigration status because the Home Office will be able to help them, justice secretary David Gauke has said.
Labour MP David Lammy called for the government to provide exceptional case funding to Commonwealth immigrants caught up in the Windrush scandal. The Law Society has warned that they may be denied justice because of legal aid cuts. Almost all non-asylum immigration cases were taken out of scope by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which came into force in April 2013.
However, Gauke said people caught up in the scandal did not need public funding. In a letter to Lammy, Gauke said he was 'confident' that home secretary Sajid Javid 'will make the process to obtain documents as simple as possible'.
He said: 'The Home Office are putting in place a dedicated Windrush case-working team which will help those affected through the system. Individuals will be able to speak with this taskforce free of charge. They can do by either using the dedicated helpline, contacting the taskforce via email, or attending surgeries that are beginning to be rolled out.
'They will be invited to in-person appointment where Home Office staff will assist them with the application process. As such, the process should not require anyone to seek legal advice, and a public statement on the availability of exceptional case funding should not be necessary.'
Amber Rudd was criticised by immigration specialists for suggesting, prior to resigning as home secretary, that Windrush citizens did not need to instruct solicitors.
Lammy tweeted that, based on its record, 'I don't trust the Home Office as far as I can throw it'.