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

Culture of disbelief


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Claims have emerged from a UKBA staff member previously based at Cardiff that her colleagues were abusive to asylum seekers both to their faces and behind their backs when discussing their applications. The claims are detailed, specific and plausible. If I had to use a single word to describe them, I guess it would be ‘credible’.

Most UKBA staff are no doubt conscientious. The ones who comment here certainly seem to be.

It might be said that the incidents are being taken out of context and were only jokes to make tolerable the difficult, draining jobs done by UKBA staff. The Jim Davidson school of ‘thought’ shall we say. I’ll resist the temptation to say more. The absurdity of this assertion is axiomatic.

The incidents described might represent the actions of a vocal and obnoxious minority. Nevertheless, such people still decide cases and make detention decisions, they are not as far as we can see reported by their colleagues. They surely create a corrosive, corrupted atmosphere in which it is not surprising that a culture of disbelief might thrive.

Coming hot on the heels of a case where a £100,000 out of court settlement for prolonged unlawful detention of a family causing persisting psychological damage to the children was reported and a further judicial review claim for unlawful detention of a mentally ill man highlighted gross failure even to consider UKBA policy on detention of vulnerable people, it has not been a good few days for UKBA.

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

Communicating important legal concepts in an approachable way, this is an essential guide for students, lawyers and non-specialists alike.

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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.