Solicitors have condemned David Cameron’s proposal to deprive EU immigrants of access to legal aid.

The prime minister told parliament last week: ‘There are many parts of our current arrangements that don’t pass a simple commonsense test in terms of access to housing, access to the health service, and access to justice.’

Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said: ‘Access to justice is not in the gift of the prime minister or anyone else. It is a cornerstone of our freedom and belongs to everyone: the UK citizen arrested while on holiday abroad and the immigrant working in the UK.’

Law Society human rights committee member Malcolm Fowler said: ‘This is totally barking mad. The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court would quickly throw out any proposal to allow immigrants to face criminal proceedings without representation and risk jail. The Strasbourg court would be equally robust. The proposal goes against article six of the [European] convention – the right to a fair trial.’

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