Updates, commentary, training and advice on immigration and asylum law

Are the Gurkhas a special case?


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LumleyIn some ways it was heartening to read yesterday and this morning about the Government climbdown on the Gurkhas. There is a universal recognition of the injustice of the Government’s previous positions. Personally, though, I can’t help thinking of all the other cases and groups that haven’t received the same media attention because they haven’t attracted a high profile campaigner. The injustice is no less gross in other cases but it is less easy to communicate.

Simon Jenkins today highlights the plight of Iraqi interpreters who worked with the British and are in danger as a result. Depending on which way the wind blows in a particular area, the same applies to anyone associated with British forces, even down to cleaners at the local base. There have been many examples of executions of perceived collaborators. I know of one case of an interpreter who worked with a friend of mine in Iraq. He was threatened, he felt he had to leave and he ended up in Canada, not Britain. That’s not what I call taking responsibility for our actions.

What about the deceitful Home Office stance on Zimbabwe? What about the secret detention policies? What about the appalling ‘service’ received from UKBA and Entry Clearance Officers in return for the enormous fees now charged? What about the discriminatory nationality laws that continue to linger on the statute books like a bad smell?

In early 2008 the ridiculous treatment of slight overstayers received a lot of coverage. What about the genuinely absurd decisions coming through under the Points Based System? I’ve had one case where an incorrect bank charge took the student below the required £800 for a few days before the bank refunded it an admitted the error, yet the student was refused. I had another that was refused because the university in question does graduation ceremonies only twice a year and the Home Office refused to accept letters from the university saying the student had passed the course with flying colours. There are many similar examples out there – in fact, please leave a comment below if you have any such stories.

Before leaving the subject, I noticed that still immigration minister Phil Woolas was nowhere to be seen yesterday. See here for coverage of his expenses, incidentally. It looks like he hasn’t actually broken any rules, he just put in receipts that weren’t in fact needed. The discredited and plain mean previous position on the Gurkhas was very much his doing. Surely he has to go at the imminent reshuffle? I can’t bring myself to do the research to find out if this would actually make him the shortest serving as well as the least loved immigration minister of all time – and he surely has some stiff competition in both fields.

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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.


4 Responses

  1. In 2004 I was boarding a direct flight to Africa.
    I saw a young lady frog-marched by two immigration officers into a special section within the boarding gate area.

    Later I got chatting to the lady on the flight. She was a police woman who went to Italy for a training course. She came to England for a short visit and was trying to return to Italy to catch her return flight to Africa.

    The airline had charged her for the UK to Italy flight, then charged her for re-scheduling the Italy to Africa flight, then said she couldn’t take it because her 30 days VISA (UK or Italy) had expired two days prior. She was then asked to also pay for the direct flight back to Africa. Immigration was then called to deal with the matter. This is when I saw her initially as above.

  2. While it would be nice to see Woolas lose his ministerial job, New/Old Labour would certainly find someone else equally ignorant about the issue and generally unpleasant in doing the job to take over. Hazel Blears, in the news currently, was Immigration Minister wasn’t she? And she was much the same wasn’t she? I really do not think it matters. The way the govt resisted change on the Gurkas issue just shows how hard it is for anyone else and you have given some examples.

    A recent article in the Indy highlighted the problems experienced by international musicians in getting visas to visit the UK. The background to this I think is the Gordon Brown “class war” idea that if ordinary people are being treated with contempt by ECOs this should be extended to the “great and good” as well. This is backed up by the Old Labour idea that foreigners come to take our jobs and should be kept out at all costs – the reason for opposing concessions for the Gurkas.

  3. on the ridiculous pbs decisions – a friend recently applied for PSW visa. he submitted three full months worth of full and complete bank statements, but as he was applying two weeks into the month he added a non-itemised statement to cover the period between his last full itemised statement and the time of the application. he was well above the 800 required in any case. refused, of course, for not detailing transactions. won on appeal, of course, after 5 minutes of wasted tribunal time and an easy CLR fixed fee for the IAS.

  4. Its clearly a political decision, what is different about the Ghurkas when compared to Iraqis, Zimbabweans or any other group?

    Its the fact that a huge part of the voting population has a tie to them either through serving in the Army/RAF/Navy or being related to someone who has, politicians cannot afford to alienate this constituency any more than they already have.

    If Zimbabweans or Iraqis can get a similar level of support to that the Ghurkas have then maybe the situation might change but until then its unlikely.