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

A good year for IAS


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The Immigration Advisory Service has been around since 1972, although, out of the ashes of the old United Kingdom Immigrants’ Advice Service, it transmogrified into its current incarnation in 1994. IAS is one of the biggest providers of immigration and asylum advice and representation, but has traditionally punched below its weight, producing few landmark cases or legal challenges. While Chief Executive Keith Best has something of a reputation for outspoken boat rocking, IAS staff have been fairly anonymous in the sector in the past.

Immigration Lawyer of the Year Kalvir Kaur
Immigration Lawyer of the Year Kalvir Kaur

That is definitely changing. One of the biggest immigration cases this year, EB (Kosovo), was an IAS case, and the long running Zimbabwe litigation was brought to a successful conclusion by IAS. Meanwhile, the organisation has recruited some hot legal talent. The indominatable Sheona York, formerly of Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre, will shortly be joining them as some sort of lead lawyer and Kalvir Kaur at IAS (right, flanked to the right by the severe-looking Julian Bild and to the far left by Martina Flanaghan – both very good lawyers themselves) was recently recognised as Immigration Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year for her fantastic work with children and victims of trafficking.

Hopefully all this will give IAS staff a bit more to be proud of and instill a bit of justified self confidence.

Oddly, though, IAS was recently joined by a senior secondee from the Home Office, who is helping out for a year with management processes. Bringing in help from an organisation that (a) is hardly a model of administrative efficiency and good practise and (b) is your opponent in everything you do doesn’t sound terribly self-confident.

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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.


13 Responses

  1. FM,

    I agree that the IAS should start to punch their weight, they are a very significant organisation in the Immigration Sphere.

    I’m sorry to say it, but your comment about an HO staff member working with them made me rather angry, can’t you for just a moment; A. put your own prejudices aside and welcome this giant leap in bringing down the iron curtain, and B. declare your IAS interest ?


  2. Outspoken boat rocking? Justified self confidence? I agree with LondonHopo – FM appears to have a distinct IAS interest.

    That’s as far as I would agree with LondonHopo, though. Does the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ mean nothing to the powers-that-be at IAS??

    1. I have “interests” all over the place! I’m sorry to say that this is almost a re-print of one of Keith’s recent speeches, in fact, albeit rather a lot shorter and to the point.

      I was genuinely shocked when I heard about the Home Office official, as the person who first told me can testify. It is nothing against him personally. However, I don’t consider it prejudiced to think that the Home Office is a very badly run organisation indeed, nor to consider that there is a serious conflict of interest here. I really cannot imagine any of the other organisations in the sector, nor any solicitors firm, acting in a similar way. It is inconceivable, in fact.

  3. FM,

    Indeed you do, and I think you are dodging the point – but I won’t press it.

    What about when several well known members of the bar (including you) were assisting in the training of new case owners? Did the HO see it an “inconceivable conflict of interests” …. No, but instead a useful opportunity for professionals on either side of the fence to gain a greater degree of empathy with one and other.


    1. Barristers are tarts, of course, and are conditioned by the cab rank rule to working for all and sundry.

      We were contracted to deliver training to improve decision-making and certainly had no access to the Home Office computer system, statistics, budgetary information, files, offices and so forth. It’s not quite the same, I’d say. Conflict of interest has particular meanings to lawyers. We don’t say “It’s OK, I’ve got access to information that I won’t use because I’m not like that”, it’s about making sure there is no perception of a conflict.

  4. Professional ethics can be mysterious to those outside professional circles. I understand your gut instinct on this & kind of agree. I think your answer has hit the nail on the head here – its all about context; the saying “whiter than white” springs to mind here.

    While I do accept there are professionals at the home office, I haven’t yet met either of them. I think one works collecting the application fees and the other in the PR department.(LOL)

    FM, has your anonymity gone? – the one in the middle of the picture.
    Explains why you didn’t use the term “whiter than white”.
    “Barristers are tarts”? – I thought they did soliciting.

  5. DP
    Well FM does use the phrase “recruited some hot legal talent”.
    Was FM one of the IAS recruits?

  6. A senior secondee from the HO? That’s the kiss of death for the IAS!
    We (the HO) couldn’t organise a social gathering in a beer manufacturers establishment ourselves, let alone one for someone else.

    He’s not being prejudice HOPO but has a firm grasp on reality!

    In reality probably the only reason this is being done by the HO is that the people involved (and their managers) can tick a box called ‘engaging with external stakeholders’ for their promotion/yearly report!

  7. The Deporter

    I like your blog name.
    Could be the title of a good film – “The Firm” or “The Reporter”
    (“nobody leaves the firm”)
    Did you think “piss-up in a brewery” is a bit verbose?
    How long have you worked at the N.F.4.P. club?