Some or all of the staff at the IAS Bristol office have put together a press release and made a bid for independence. The text is reproduced below. This follows from a mysterious comment signed off only as ‘IAS’ left on the original Law Society Gazette story yesterday asserting that the IAS Northern Business Unit was a viable entity and basically wanted to go it alone
There is a firm belief that the IAS Northern Business Unit is in a strong position to continue trading as a going concern and would appreciate the assistance of the LSC and other law firms in safeguarding the best interests of our clients.
There are rumours that the administrators are at least looking into continuing some IAS offices in some form, but nothing official has been announced anywhere and the rumours are really just that as far as I can see. This is entirely speculative, but it may be the case that the administrators are looking at selling some of the offices, complete with their matter starts, to other enterprises.
The text of the Bristol office press release is as follows:
Administrators today formally announced the closure of Immigration Advisory Service in Bristol.
IAS Bristol represented many of the most vulnerable people in the city, including British families, asylum seeking children and victims of:
- inhuman and degrading treatment;
- forced marriages; and
- domestic violence.
At the time of closure IAS Bristol had up to four hundred cases. There are no other providers of community legal advice in Bristol with the capacity to take on this work.
Stephen Williams MP wrote yesterday, ‘There is a crisis of capacity for immigration advice, advocacy and support in Bristol, and for some time the IAS has been the last bastion of support for individuals who cannot find representation elsewhere.’
IAS Bristol has provided high quality assistance for over five years and is financially sound. Closure has been a complete shock to staff, who found out over the weekend and have been refused permission to contact any clients and beneficiaries to assist with their ongoing cases. Many have appeals or applications at critical stages and they will now be unable to find other representation.
On 22nd June Bristol held an event to celebrate its new status as a City of Sanctuary, signifying it as a place which welcomes refugees and asylum seekers. Councillor Alex Woodman wrote yesterday, ‘The closure of the Bristol office would truly be a disaster for the Somali and other immigrant communities in the city.’
IAS Bristol staff are looking for ways to continue representing clients in Bristol and call on the administrators and the Legal Services Commission to support us in continuing our work.
Full disclosure: as many regular readers will know, I worked at IAS for several years. I am personally extremely upset to see the organisation in trouble in this way and to see friends and ex colleagues suddenly unemployed. However, it is now over five years since I left, and I don’t have any insider knowledge on what is going on over there at the moment. Information gratefully received.