A suspected trafficking victim who was taken to Britain as a child and sexually abused was refused legal aid over her immigration status by the government last year, as it changed its stance on providing help in such cases, lawyers said.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, launched a legal challenge, which led the government to revise its position, ending a year’s limbo for survivors who had been unable to receive legal aid to stay in Britain, activists said.
The government confirmed on Monday that victims have the right to free assistance, the Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU) said.
“The outcome in this case provides much needed clarity — victims should now be able to access immigration advice when they most need it,” said Carita Thomas, a solicitor with ATLEU.
“Being a world leader ... means putting victims’ needs first,” Thomas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email.
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