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UPDATE: I’ve calmed down slightly — although I’m still fuming — and amended the original of this post. I’d recommend this article as a more reasoned response than mine. If you do read it, an escutcheon is a sort of shield or protective plate, apparently. And another very good and reasoned response here, from Caroline Slocock, the Chief Executive of the Refugee Legal Centre and former head of the now defunct Equal Opportunities Commission.

This made my blood boil. The man really has no idea. I’ve worked for a couple of charities in this field as well as in independent practice at the Bar and my colleagues were committed, passionate, had massive integrity and worked sometimes for free and always for comparatively little money compared to other areas of law. I would contrast all that with the ill-informed Alf Garnett style prejudice I’ve seen from this publicity-hungry hack.

If he is so worried about costs why doesn’t he do something about Home Office poor quality decision making, abuse of the appeal system, failure to comply with directions and failure to make decisions in good time?

The potentially very serious problem here is that public hostility to asylum seekers seems to have turned a corner (albeit at the cost of redirected but overall reduced hostility towards Eastern European immigrants) and there are many positive stories that now make their way into the local and national press. Comments like this are bound to create negative headlines and generate anger. Woolas is fueling the problem he disingenuously (or plain ignorantly) claims to be trying to solve.

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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.


9 Responses

  1. Does Mr Woolas not know how his own department works?

    “play the rules” as opposed to “play by the rules”.

    Every experienced applicant (not necessarily asylum) knows if your truthful and honest you stand a good chance of finding an ECO who will “play the rules” on you and refuse, possibly because they sniff out some ignorance.
    So next time the applicant applies he will “play the rules” back on another ECO and likely be more successful.
    That is certainly the word on the street with the many Africans I know. It has become a legal game, and perhaps the makers of Monopoly can make an educational board game out of it.

    If you want to reduce costs, surely get the massive funding incentives out of the Asylum system (as Greece have). So many of them want to work for a living, but can’t due to the level of benefits handed out (poverty trap), even if they do obtain permission to work.

    FM, I agree, with so many destitute after having their claims failed, but unable to return to their countries, the work of these charities and churches is vital. To levy any criticism towards them is going down a very dangerous dead end, politically and socially.

  2. Classic New Labour, though. Set up a massively complex and contradictory statutory edifice, then blame the lawyers for actually trying to get their clients through it. CF also solicitors are to blame for PI costs under CFAs, the ‘increase’ in the legal aid bill is due to greedy legal aid lawyers, etc. etc..

  3. He does come accross as something of a Richard Cranium, bless him…. This is ‘New’ Labour trying to pander to the public’s perception of immigration being the problem; he’s simply pandering to the nice people who dropped a ‘frow out the forinners’, ‘pull out da eeyou’ leaflet through my door the other day. Wollas’ comments are akin to Sarah Palin thinking Africa was a country….clearly a case of a man with his finger on the pulse…

    This section: “In one case, Woolas said, an asylum seeker had won the right to stay after going through six layers of appeal. “That person has no right to be in this country but I’m sure that there is an industry out there [with] a vested interest.” is a testiment to the quality of the descision making process eh? Dammed judicary…

    FM – I read in Private Eye (a number of times) that legal aid is being squeezed out of the system slowly, is this still the case?

  4. It’s like the scene in Star Wars in the garbage disposal unit, basically. But there’s no C3PO, there’s no R2D2 and there’s no comm link.

  5. Woolass in his own constituency is most threatened by the BNP, so he is trying to outdo them with his vile agenda. His comments are truly despicable and I am horrified at the thought that I might actually have to vote tactically and Tory at the next elections to ensure that he and those of his ilk are ousted. *shudders*

  6. I’ve only ever experienced an out of country immigration decision process,so I can’t actually comment on asylum cases and immigration lawyers.Bit like Phil really…..