Judge hung out to dry

As we have previously argued on this blog here and here, attacks by newspapers on judges for following and applying the law are unwarranted and dangerous in a healthy democracy.

In one recent such attack article, the Daily Mail named a particular immigration judge and published a paparazzi-style photograph of him in a personal capacity. The newspaper, which clearly had a copy of the decision in question, stated of a man fighting removal from the UK that ‘a judge ruled it would breach his human rights to deport him’ and went on to assert that the judge ‘allowed the 28-year-old to remain in Britain’.

Free Movement has obtained a copy of the determination in question. It transpires that the Home Office official responsible for presenting the case in fact conceded on behalf of the Home Office that the appeal must be allowed on human rights grounds. The established case law clearly demanded this outcome. The judge went on to consider whether the man would also retain his refugee status while remaining, but the decision to allow the man to stay was that of the Home Office. There was no attempt at an appeal by the Home Office, unsurprisingly.

Aside from the issue of the wisdom of attacking judges at all, the Daily Mail is quite simply incorrect in its assertions: the appeal was conceded by the Home Office, not allowed by the judge.

It is, then, somewhat surprising that the UK Border Agency and an aide to Home Secretary Mrs May were so keen to blame the judiciary for the outcome of the case. The Daily Mail closed the article with these words:

Last night the Government admitted it was powerless in the face of the tribunal’s decision, with an aide to Mrs May stressing there was nothing the Home Secretary could do. ‘We are at the mercy of the courts,’ they said.

The UK Border Agency said: ‘We do not believe this individual needs or deserves refuge in this country.’

Judges are unable to defend themselves. By any stretch of the imagination, this is abominable, dishonest behaviour by the UK Border Agency and by the unnamed aide to Mrs May.

Free Movement

About Free Movement

The Free Movement blog was founded in 2007 by Colin Yeo, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers specialising in immigration law. The blog provides updates and commentary on immigration and asylum law by a variety of authors.