A senior Law Society official has compared government plans to withdraw support from asylum seekers who seek a judicial review with the policies of Adolf Hitler.
A draft Home Office manual released last week says that state support, including food and housing, will no longer be provided to asylum seekers who pursue a judicial review over their treatment by the immigration authorities.
“Appellants should look to their own community or the voluntary sector for any support,” it reads.
Karen Mackay, head of the Law Society's legal aid policy unit, says it will oppose the measure, saying it punishes people who have been victims of persecution in their own country for exercising their legal rights.
“It goes against all the laws of natural justice to punish people in such a way and to have such a hold over their very survival.
“It's the kind of thing Hitler would have done,” she says.
She adds that, while no reliable statistics are available, Home Office decisions are often overturned, either by the court or in an out-of-court settlement.
Denying people support while they question a ruling is likely to breach the European Convention on Human Rights, she says.
“If this provision survives I would expect to find a court case being run on it within five seconds of it becoming law.”
The move is an attempt to reduce the 2,000 High Court reviews that are taken each year and to “minimise the incentive to economic migration”.
However, immigration lawyers say reviews already go through a screening process where the court has to grant leave before the case can begin.
Immigration lawyer Jawaid Luqmani of Luqmani Thompson & Partners accepts that not all applicants are genuine, but says that the court simply needs to be more rigorous or perhaps lawyers could be fined for taking “stalling” cases that waste the court's time.