Pound Coins by William Warby

The Home Office often makes mistakes when exercising its immigration powers. The high appeal success rates bear testimony to this: as many as 50% of some categories of appeal are allowed. However, there are only some limited circumstances where it is possible to extract compensation from the Home Office by means of a court case. Unlawful detention is one example and retention of a passport can be another but pursuing a case is fraught with difficulty and risk. What about other situations, such as loss of documents, mistaken identity, ruining a wedding based on duff “intelligence” or getting a sponsor licence decision wrong?  Continue Reading…

Eliza Doolittle by George Luks 1908

SPRAKAB and anonymous evidence

Colin Yeo —  — 3 Comments

The Independent reported at the end of last week that an “expert” linguist at controversial commercial linguistic analysis company SPRAKAB has lied about his qualifications and has a criminal conviction for smuggling drugs. It is rather questionable whether the “expert” testimony of such a person should be regarded as inherently reliable. The initial story was swiftly followed up with another reporting that the Home Office had quietly downgraded its use of SPRAKAB over the summer.

This story has prompted me to carry out a much delayed write up of the Supreme Court case of Secretary of State for Home Department v MN and KY (Scotland) [2014] UKSC 30. Continue Reading…


Back in 2006, even before this blog first began and in the aftermath of his predecessor’s resignation, then Home Secretary John Reid declared that his department was “not fit for purpose”. A huge backlog of some half a million cases had been uncovered and the department would aim to deal with this “legacy”, one way or another, within five years. Since then the immigration functions of the Home Office have been farmed out to a separate agency, brought back in house and, as with its malformed parent, the Legacy somehow staggers on like an extra in a bad zombie flick. Plus ça change. Continue Reading…

Plane taking off

In Tarakhel v Switzerland [2014] ECHR 1185 (04 November 2014) the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) has issued its long-awaited decision as to the lawfulness of returning asylum seekers to Italy, a subject that has engaged the refugee lawyers of Europe for some years. The ECtHR rules that individualised enquiries leading to individual assurances will be necessary in the case of child returnees including families with children. Continue Reading…


Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon

Colin Yeo —  — 1 Comment

Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same–and War’s a bloody game…
Have you forgotten yet?…
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench–
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack–
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads–those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?…
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Sassoon wrote ‘Aftermath’ in 1919. He had served in action in the woods at Mametz and, haunted by the guilt of the survivor, the question he repeatedly asks is of himself. The last two years I’ve posted up more immediate and visceral poems by Wilfred Owen — Owen’s nightmarish invocation of image, sound and sensation seems to a layman more obviously traumatised — but it clear that Sassoon’s burden was a very heavy one.

Wilfred Owen was, incidentally, the subject of a sickening character assassination by some nobody in The Daily Mail a few days ago, described as academically backward, a coward, a paedophile, a “faithful copyist and an imitator” whose poetry “lacked moral authority and legitimacy” who met “a fitting finale” when killed in action a week before Armistice. There really are no depths that rag will not plumb.

Garden Court Chambers Logo

Following the death at Heathrow Airport in October 2010 of Jimmy Mubenga during the course of his deportation this week saw the start of a landmark prosecution of the three G4S Detention Custody Officers. Counsel for the Crown Mark Dennis QC opening the case said:

[The guards] held Mubenga in such a position [bent forward] that his ability to breathe properly was inevitably impaired. Each officer would have known from their training – and from common sense – that keeping someone in such a position was likely to cause a person harm, yet they did so over a prolonged period and did so ignoring the repeated shouts from Mubenga that he was in trouble.

Continue Reading…


The line of the Berlin Wall, marked by lights here in this aerial photograph, is a vivid reminder of the importance of free movement of people, the greatest single achievement of the European Union. Walls, barriers, fences and quotas do not protect, they divide.

Gail elliman

Gail Elliman 1961-2014

Colin Yeo —  — 9 Comments

Gail Elliman was first and foremost a fantastically warm, funny and compassionate human being. She was also a socialist, a feminist, a lawyer, a trainer, an immigration judge and a coroner. Tragically, she died on 19 October 2014 at the age of 53.

I did not know Gail well enough to write a proper obituary and a closer friend of hers, Gary McIndoe, says that she wanted no memorial (In memory of Gail Elliman). I had such huge respect for Gail, though, that I feel I cannot left her death go unremarked here. Continue Reading…

It would help to reduce the attractiveness of this country as a destination for illegal immigrants if being an illegal immigrant was made a specific criminal offence…David Nuttall MP

The clue is in the word “illegal”, David. There are a very wide range of criminal offences covering all types of, er, illegal behaviour. Not just in immigration law, either! In an immigration context, though, section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 (“title: Illegal entry and similar offences”) is probably the main one. It makes it a criminal offence to enter the UK illegally or knowingly to overstay.

Says a lot about the quality of our Members of Parliament and the level of “debate” around the issue of immigration.