Three years ago, HCLC – the charity which provides free and independent legal advice and representation to residents in Hackney – took on the case of Mrs Ama and her 23 year old son (pictured right).
Mrs Ama’s son is autistic, has mental health problems and learning difficulties. Despite his biological age, his impairment is such that he requires the same intensive care and support as a 6 year old.
Mrs Ama and her son, who come from West Africa, arrived in the UK in 2003. Mrs Ama applied for leave to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds but her application was refused. It then transpired that the Home Office would subsequently delay dealing with her appeal for 9 years!
After nine years of fighting for the right to appeal, and after taking to her case to four other law firms, Mrs Ama finally turned to Hackney Community Law Centre in despair.
HCLC then spent three years fighting the case, making numerous legal representations on Mrs Ama’s behalf to the Home Office and finally lodging a new appeal.
On Friday 20th January 2012, the Home Office withdrew its decision not to grant leave to remain to Mrs Ama and her disabled son and they were told that they were being granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Commenting on the court victory, HCLC Chair Ian Rathbone said:
“Thanks to the skilful work and persistence of our caseworkers, the justice of this case came through in the end. We are also grateful for the support of the local MP Meg Hillier”.
“Without legal aid, this victory would not have happened. It underlines once again that cutting legal aid will lead to great injustice and that law centres have a particularly important role to play in such complex and lengthy cases which many other lawyers will not take on”.
HCLC Caseworker Maggie Crowley, who worked on Mrs Ama’s case said:
“After a long delay and much hardship suffered by our clients, I am delighted that the Home Office has granted our clients indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Our clients can now get on with their lives safe and secure in the knowledge that Hackney – where they have now lived for many years – will continue to be their home”.
“The proposed legal aid cuts to immigration legal aid mean that very soon people in the same desperate situation as our client, and her very vulnerable son, will no longer be able to access legal help and as a result may ultimately be forced into further hardship“.