JusticeWatch: The Home Office, immigration control and a ‘culture of impunity’

A culture of impunity
The Home Office has ‘mistakenly detained’ more than 850 people between 2012 and 2017 and the government has been forced to pay out more than £21m in compensation, the Guardian reported.

‘Figures released to the home affairs select committee this week show there were 171 cases of wrongful immigration detention in 2015-16, triggering compensation payments totalling £4.1m, and 143 cases in 2016–17, triggering a further £3.3m in compensation,’ it said. ‘Between 2012 and 2015 a total of £13.8m was paid out to more than 550 people after a period of unlawful immigration detention.’

Meanwhile, ‘Mishka’ wrote for the Justice Gap about the ‘woeful inaccuracy’ of the Home Office’s bail summaries. Mishka is a pseudonym, He is a member of the Freed Voices group which describes itself as ‘a collective of experts-by-experience committed to speaking out about the realities of immigration detention in the UK. Between them, they have lost over 20 years to detention in this country.’

‘Only last year, a report produced by the Bar Council declared that both lawyers and immigration judges found misleading statements littered throughout a sample of bail summaries,’ he wrote. ‘As one judge put it, many of them contained statements that amounted to “elliptical nonsense”.’ What does it tell us about ‘the culture of impunity protecting those in working in the business of “immigration control”, he wrote.

‘We are living in an era where anyone living under the authority of the Home Office (basically, anyone subjected to immigration control) can be penalised for either the most minuscule or the most genuine mistake. Any such errors immediately render them criminals, or re-cast them as bogus or frauds. Why is this obligation not applicable to Home Office caseworkers and presenting officers as well? Why do we have double standards between those seeking status and security and those granting it?’

Legal aid fraud
Six solicitors were among nine people charged in relation to allegedly fraudulent legal aid claims that were made for more than £12.6m – reported the Law Society’s Gazette.

‘According to a Metropolitan Police statement, the charges follow a complex fraud team investigation, which began in December 2012 after HM Courts & Tribunals Service reported allegedly fraudulent applications for legal costs made to the National Taxation Team,’ the Gazette said.

Supreme Court appointments
Three new justices have been appointed to the Supreme Court ‘including a third woman narrowing the gender gap in the UK’s highest judicial institution’, according to the Guardian. Lady Justice Arden will join the court along with Lord Justice Kitchin and Lord Justice Sales.

‘Arden’s husband, Lord Mance, stepped down from the supreme court this month upon reaching the compulsory retirement age of 75,’ the Guardian noted. ‘For a time both sat together on the court of appeal, the first married couple to serve concurrently.’

A highly successful problem-solving court was ‘at grave risk for want of £250,000’, Joshua Rozenberg blogged.

‘What is particularly galling is that government seems unable to recognise that a family justice system that removes the 4th, 5th, 6th child from the same parents for the same reason is a failing (failed?) system,’ Nicholas Crichton, the district judge who ran the Family Drug and Alcohol Court told the legal commentator. ‘FDAC offers an alternative that in many cases enables children to remain within their families, and then the families don’t go on having more children in the vain hope that they will be able to keep them.’

Legal aid and Society conference
The Public Law Project is having its ‘Legal Aid and Society’  conference in Manchester next month. Great line up with Lord Willy Bach, the Law Society’s Richard Miller and LAPG’s Carol Storer, the Guardian’s Eric Allison and the Justice Gap’s Will Bordell and Mary-Rachel McCabe.


About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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