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

Home Office Presenting Officers


Older content is locked

A great deal of time and effort goes into producing the information on Free Movement, become a member of Free Movement to get unlimited access to all articles, and much, much more


By becoming a member of Free Movement, you not only support the hard-work that goes into maintaining the website, but get access to premium features;

  • Single login for personal use
  • FREE downloads of Free Movement ebooks
  • Access to all Free Movement blog content
  • Access to all our online training materials
  • Access to our busy forums
  • Downloadable CPD certificates

I am acutely conscious that this is a controversial, difficult subject and there have been many comments on this topic on this blog in the past.

I’ll say at the outset that many HOPOs I meet are pleasant and professional. They are a credit to the Home Office and make the best of a very difficult job. However, the systems and environment within which HOPOs work would frustrate the best intentioned individuals, and of course there are a number of HOPOs, as in any group of human beings, who do not sem to hold good intentions in the first place.

I have decided to post what I understand to be the latest HOPO training material, from day 1 of their internal training course. The previous version was made available to a well known asylum lawyer under a Freedom of Information Act request. Concerns were raised about aspects of that material and the Home Office duly sent out a revised version of their own accord.

Concerns remain.

Firstly, it has become clear that HOPOs have no code of conduct as such. Barristers, solicitors and OISC advisers are all regulated by different codes of conduct which require us to work in certain ways. For example, they impose a duty of confidentiality to the client, a duty to act in the best interests of the client and a duty not to knowingly mislead the court or act unethically. These duties are very important to lawyers and where they are breached we are disciplined by our professional bodies and disbarred from practice.

One would expect HOPOs to have a similar code with defined duties. They do not. There is therefore no clear ethical or professional framework for them and neither the courts or their opponents can or should have confidence in HOPOs acting in a professional way. This is not an attack on HOPOs personally, but on the system within which they operate.

This does not, of course, prevent individual HOPOs from acting as closely as possible to what they understand to be a professional manner, as many do. They are not required to do so, nor is there a framework to help them do so.

Other advocates are said to be ‘officers of the court’. They have a duty to the court and are required to help the court reach a fair, just and lawful decision. A prosecutor in a criminal case has a duty to disclose information that would be helpful to the defence, for example. There is no such duty on HOPOs, despite the danger that a wrong decision will split a family, deprive children of parents or lead to torture or death. Nor is there a duty to reveal or point to one of the innumerable Home Office policies if one might assist an appellant.

One thing here that has really been getting my goat of late is that the Home Office recently revealed that they operate a presumption of detention in deportation cases (the judicial review judgment is due any day). How far they actually operated their presumption is open to question, as it would seem that not everyone in the Home Office was actually told about the policy and the presumption of liberty continued to be the declared policy – an example of Home Office incompetence par excellence, although a welcome one for a change. HOPOs notably still fail to mention to immigration judges in bail hearings that the bail summary, the justification for detention, is written from a completely different starting point to that of the immigration judge, who does (or should) apply the presumption of liberty. The Home Office officials writing these often highly misleading and inaccurate documents (this is a scandal all of its own) have to justify detention at all costs, basically, and never state a key reason for detention, which is the presumption. That is not proper nor ethical.

The issue of disclosure does get some airing in the training materials (see page 4), but it is very weakly expressed and it is certainly not written into a binding code.

There are also anomalies that become apparent in the training material. HOPOs regularly claim that they are not permitted to concede cases. This is particularly the case with entry clearance appeals. This never stopped HOPOs from raising entirely new issues never previously raised in an asylum or entry clearance refusal. It cannot be right that HOPOs would simultaneously lack the autonomy to concede issues but possess the autonomy to raise new issues: it would suggest that HOPOs are not neutral ‘officers of the court’ but instead are a thin red line fighting at all costs for appeals to be dismissed, never conceded.

However, this edition of the training material suggests that concessions can be made, albeit if practicable with the agreement of someone senior. In practice this news eludes HOPOs in court, I have to say, who continue to claim that concessions cannot be made. Simultaneously, the training material preserves the possibility of HOPOs raising new issues, preferably in advance of a hearing. Since HOPOs rarely get their case files in advance of a hearing, this is disingenuous. Appellants’ representatives are frequently ambushed with new issues and HOPOs regularly go on fishing expeditions in cross examination that would breach the Bar Code of Conduct (paragraph 708(j)). And the HOPO will then usually then resist any adjournment application based on the fact that the issue in question is a new one and the appeal has not been prepared on that basis.

Lastly, I cannot leave this subject without saying more about the late allocation of files to HOPOs and the lack of their continuity of conduct of cases, both of which very effectively preclude them from professionalism. A number of problems flow from this systemic failing.

All HOPOs universally refuse point blank to make concessions or agreements at Case Management Review Hearings. This defeats the object (and expense) of CMRHs and the Home Office approach contrasts very unfavourably with any other area of law or form of legal proceedings. I assume the reluctance is borne of fear. The HOPO does not retain conduct of the file and the fear is of later criticism by a colleague who feels that his or her chance of getting an appeal dismissed has been reduced. This is a disgraceful underlying attitude and it leads to considerable waste of public funds in having to prepare and then argue issues that could properly have been dealt with by agreement at an early stage.

HOPOs apply for adjournments because of late allocation of files. This is simply appalling. I had one case recently where the clinically depressed client was distraught at having to wait longer and the two witnesses, who had travelled a long way and made complex professional and child care arrangements to be there, had to come back another day. The client is now a refugee (the appeal was allowed and the Home Office attempted to appeal out of time — late again — but he is now alienated and disillusioned in a way that he was not before the delay. Well done, Home Office.

HOPOs routinely fail to comply with directions given by the tribunal. This is so endemic that most immigration judges decline to direct the Home Office to do anything because they consider it a waste of time. This includes simple directions such as giving warning of new issues or service of evidence or documents relied on. It is a disgrace that the Home Office cannot comply with directions – and equally disgraceful that the tribunal’s response is not to make them.

SHOPOs, the Senior HOPOs who appear for the Home Office at error of law reconsideration hearings, always fail to comply with the Rule 30 requirement for replies. The recent case of MB (Rule 30 Procedure Rules) DRC [2008] UKAIT 00088 highlights the issue. The Home Office stance at paragraph 11 would be laughable in its expectation of privilege if it wasn’t so objectionable to a legal aid lawyer. It isn’t as if the Home Office allow appellants to object to mandatory rules on the basis that we haven’t had resources, time or training. I wasn’t able to rock up to the tribunal with Home Office support and say that 5 days isn’t long enough to lodge an appeal when my client is detained at the other end of the country because the immigration service just moved him yet again, for example. Ms Kiss is always good value in that respect, though. I wonder if her response was sanctioned by higher authority.

Asylum lawyers are regularly blamed for spinning out proceedings. The Home Office recently consulted on the appeals process and repeated this charge. As an aside I note that this should have been a Ministry of Justice consultation and this has been taken by many as indicative of the extent to which the courts and tribunals are unduly influenced by one party to immigration proceedings. There is no recognition from the Home Office that considerable delay is caused by their own systemic and systematic failings.

Polite and considered comments welcome.

Relevant articles chosen for you
Picture of Free Movement

Free Movement

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.


32 Responses

  1. FM – Again another great job.
    So much of it again rings true to my own experience. If it is based on your recent experience, it troubles me that the AIT may have changed little despite the numerous reforms.
    I would be interested in what you put in the recent HO survey on appeals.

    I will comment further after I see responses from the HOPOs.

    Three of the ways appeals could be improved substantially are:
    1. A second judge or a moderator. He (or she) could give feedback on the Judge, the HOPO, and the client’s representative. This could provide a basis for improving the system through discipline, training, and reveiw.
    2. Judge requires Professional and ethical behaviour in court. If the HOPO tries to add other arguments without evidence, the judge should take immediate action. Too many of them allow this time wasting tactic, and other “mud flinging/sticking techniques eg “HO don’t believe the case is Genuine”. The moderator could also contribute here.
    3. The judge should be required to read the HO file. After all it is about getting to the facts of the case.

    In my appeal of approx six years ago, the judge was so innaccurate, his adjudication contained many major mistakes, at least four of which were on “fundamental issues”. There needs to be some system to improve the judge’s performance, rather than worries about his personal conduct (eg. swearing) which is what the complaints procedure only seems interested in dealing with.

  2. Experience will seem to show that the Home Office is indulged in these unprofessional and systematic failings by some willing Immigration Judges.

    This morning I was appalled by a decision of an IJ who reluctantly granted my client’s adjournment request not on its merits (including expected expert report within a week and lack of time to interview and prepare witness statement for his brother whom he recently located, there being good reasons for all this) but on the basis that the Home Office could not get the brother’s file within the system. Another appalling indulgence of the Home Office by the IJ was exemplified by the fact that the previous IJ’s direction that if R wished to raise Article 1(F) issue against a minor (albeit disputed), she should provide particulars 10 days before the hearing to enable the appellant to deal with them was ignored. The HOPO at today’s aborted hearing was permitted by the IJ to leave the matter in the air, meaning they can choose to raise the matter at the adjourned hearing without.

    It is definitely right for the HOPOs to be subjected to the same professional standards as their opponents.

  3. FM, a lot of what you say has, some merit. Although you do not seem to be aware or have acknowledged that the HO are working closely with the OISC to achieve accreditation for HO employees and that many PO’s and Caseowners have taken up these opportunities and are accredited or working towards accreditation. Secondly, a very large number, certainly the majority, of PO’s and SPO’s are qualified barristers and solicitors and do work to their profession’s codes of conduct. If that isn’t enough, and I suspect not, all PO’s are constantly appraised and observed in court by thier line managers. And thoughout the process are reminded and taught that they ARE ‘officers of the court’ and have duties to both their ‘lay client’ (SSHD) and the court. Any complaint made by counsel, the AIT or member of the puclic against an individual PO (usually resulting in immediate suspension of the PO) are fully investigated and the penalties for any inappropriate behaviour are severe.

    Therefore, I feel you speak about the minority of PO’s above rather than the majority. It is right that PO’s shoudl be held to professional standards and I’m sure many would welcome a code of conduct also. But of course a code of conduct only serves to hold to account and PO’s are already held to account, as illustrated above, through their own professional bodies and through constant appraisal and observation.

    Mr T makes some wise suggestions and such suggestions / concerns can be fed back and put to the AIT by raising them at any of the User Group Meetings which take place at hearing centres. For information Mr T : judges are often shadowed and observered on thier performance in court, like PO’s (my judge was lucky enough to be so today).

    Regarding adjournments I think the blame / reasons for them can be pretty equally shared between all parties see

    http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/foi-asylum-immigration-adjournments.pdf for supporting figures.

    We all hope for a better system in which to work and I accept there are failings from the HO side. However; I feel this post is far from balanced,objective and fair, which I find disappointing from an author who claims to not be expressly ‘anti-homeoffice’. Whilst standards of representation for Appellants remain high from most counsel and many solicitors the same cannot be said for many ‘Immigration Advisors’ The OISC do their best to regulate but their are many out there, Whom I’d imagine are looking over their shoulder waiting for the OISC to take action against them.

  4. FM,

    I’m glad that you have raised this issue. The core of what you have said does have merit, I echo what APO has said. But I think you have tried to bolster your argument with weaker and less relevant points.

    Yes, PO’s would benefit from more training, they are legally under qualified when compared with many of their opponents. This if anything often tilts the tables in favour of appellants. I’m familiar with the document you have published, I just don’t see the smoking gun which you seem to suggest lies within.

    I disagree with APO on one point. Years ago most PO’s were law graduates, and many had done the LPC/BVC, however they only took the PO job as they had failed to secure training contract/pupilage – many then went on to do so having gained advocacy experience as PO’s. However I agree with you, contrary to APO, that PO’s are not bound by the same rules that barristers or solicitors must adhere to, under S84 of the 1999 Act they appear on behalf of the Crown.

    These days almost all PO’s are graduates, some in law, but the minority have undertaken LPC/BVC. The modern PO is doing the job as a stepping stone up the civil service ladder. FM notes in another post that many CO’s have moved on, as have PO’s – both jobs make the person well placed for promotion.

    I don’t think any PO would object to a formal code of conduct. I echo my colleague’s comments that the Home Office complaints procedure is open to any representative or appellant to utilize, but with respect, whilst many on the other side huff and puff, they rarely go down this route.

    It is open to representatives or appellant to complain to a PO’s team manager or head of unit. In a nutshell, the suggestion that PO’s can act with impunity, and there is no process by which complaints can be made and investigated is wrong. That said whilst more experienced PO’s fully understand their first duty to the court, and will disclose material ‘in the interests of justice’ – clear and binding guidance on this point is however required. That said representatives can make use of the data protection act for disclosure (as the RLC tend to do in most cases).

    I would like to add, that improper behaviour (which I feel is demonstrated by only a handful of PO’s) is not unique to our side. I have seen with my own eyes, albeit rarely, some appalling behaviour on the part of representatives over the years. That said, most opponents I have been against are polite and professional.

    Turning to the matter of detention of FNP’s; In 2006 the Home Secretary was forced to resign as Foreign National Prisoners (the majority of whom had no free standing status in the UK) were released into the community, as versus being moved into Immigration detention pending deportation, this caused shock and outrage amongst the general public. Given that from that point on, the practise of moving FNP’s in to IDC’s post custodial sentence became well known – I think the description of it being a ‘secret policy’ is a bit rich. In practise, because of a lack of capacity in the IDC’s (and prisons) not all FNP’s are detained. However, I accept that the practise / policy was not universally known to PO’s, it was not circulated to them, and yes, bail summaries did not refer to this – and they should have done so.

    On CMR’s; the PO cycle is normally one day prep, next day court. A CMR list can be anything between ten and twenty cases (a substantive list, these days, normally max two asylum). When a PO prepares a CMR list, they have much less time to prepare (there is a tick box exercise to complete, i.e. name of appellant correct, removal directions to the correct country, immigration decision and appeal notice valid etc etc). As you say, the CMR PO will rarely have conduct of the substantive hearing, neither are they full briefed for it a CMR stage. As such the CMR PO does not want to bind the substantive PO to a position, thus quite sensibly, will be very reticent to make concession on the spot, however they can be invited to take instructions on the matter post CMR, pre substantive.

    In short, it’s a matter of resources. Would it be better if they case owner model were fully deployed and for one person to have conduct throughout ? Yes, would this mean concessions could be more likely at CMR’s ? yes. Would this save public funds ? Yes.

    On Conceding Points / New Issues; PO’s are under instructions that they may not concede points without the permission of either the decision maker or a Senior Executive Officer. In out of country cases, it is usually impractical (once the file has been received, and considered, the day before the hearing) to contact the post, and for a response to be received in time. There is not, in my opinion, a bar on new issues being raised because the decision maker has not been consulted, in fact there the well known authority of Kwok on Tong that allows both PO’s and Judges to raise new issues, there is no contradiction here.

    Some times new issues are raised because the PO is aware of evidence that was not before the decision maker, the PO has public duty to Immigration Control in those circumstances to raise the issue.

    The flaws in the system emanate from a lack of resources and lack of joined up process, and not because of conspiracy of or attempts to practise the ‘dark arts’. UKBA employ many thousands of people, who operate in what has been described internally as a ‘silo mentality’.

    My goal in blogging on your site is to attempt to make those on the ‘outside the walls’ understand the context in which UKBA staff work.

    I agree that the discourse in relation to this subject should be kept, polite, considerate and temperate, and look forward to reading the responses of you and others to the points that I and my colleague have made.

    Best wishes,


  5. London HOPO

    Thanks for a very detailed post.

    We all agree PO’s are generally well educated.
    However, I think that you may be joining two points into one again.

    FM talked about professional ethics, whereas you have talked about being professional.

    Being ethical to me means “doing what is right in whatever the circumstance, even if it is to one’s own detriment”. I do not perceive this happening very much in any Government department, hence including the Home Office, and hence PO’s as just one example.

    FM gives many examples of unethical behaviour by PO’s in his experience. There is no excuse for unethical behaviour, not even responses to unethical behaviour by applicants generally (the result of which is often that the ethical applicant is the one thats get stung).

    I think PO’s being held to a code of professional ethics is a good idea amongst others. Without it, the PO’s job becomes about winning cases through red-herring arguments & court room techniques, rather than being a participant in checking the correctness of immigration decisions.

  6. Touché Mr T,

    I agree that it would be helpful and just for the rules under which PO’s work to be codified in to some form of ‘code of conduct’ that mirrors the professional framework that our opponents must adhere to. This would in fact add weight to the arguments that PO’s advance, as the IJ’s would be mindful of the necessity that the PO complies with such a code.

    I have accepted that PO’s do not always disclose material to the other side which they should do in the interest of justice, I have accepted that clear and binding guidance should be issued (perhaps within the context a code of conduct).

    I would (again) urge those of you on the other side to lobby UKBA on this point, preferably in a united voice (and using constructive language), advancing a well thought out, detailed, balanced, and realistic proposal – please don’t just complain – Act.

    I disagree with your comments about “red herrings”, again I can only speak from personal experience. As for court room techniques, tactics and strategies – there are used by both sides, and, in my opinion are essential aspects of the adversarial system, which assist a member of the judiciary to reach a fair decision. The Tribunal in fact have said (http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKIAT/2005/00124.html) that more weight should be attached to evidence that has been tested under cross examination.


  7. I’m sorry for not responding sooner. I’ve been very short of time of late and try to concentrate on writing new posts when I can.

    Regarding the complaints procedure, I have to say that I haven’t used it for years. I did once or twice but with no response whatsoever. Back then I thought that there was no way for the system to improve without feedback. Now, I’ve pretty much given up – although I guess this post and comment suggests I can’t quite give it up. I have no faith at all in an effective Home Office complaints process. I realise there have been developments on this front but I’m afraid, based on past experience, I’ve got better things to do than waste my time and effort making complaints, particularly when it usually will not help the individual client.

    I strongly maintain that the presumed detention policy was secret (and is still not referred to in bail summaries!) and was unlawful. We should see whether I am right in the next few days, once the leading judgement is out. The published policy is for there to be a presumption of liberty. To reverse the presumption without clearly saying so and without changing published guidance seems pretty secret to me. We are so used to politicians blathering on meaninglessly about ‘automatic’ deportation and the like that, frankly, we can’t be expected to actually believe it when it is announced in the Commons and nowhere else that deportees will be detained come what may when that is so blatantly contrary to Article 5 ECHR and the common law.

    On CMRs, why not bind a colleague? We do it, because we think things through and take responsibility for our actions. We regularly at CMRs make decisions that effectively bind a colleague, such as dropping the asylum or Article 8 aspect of a case or suchlike. The only reason I can imagine for the Home Office not doing likewise is because the future colleague wants as much room as possible to argue the case. This is entirely contrary to good case management (taking as my standard any other area of law) and is a disgraceful waste of public funds.

    I believe there is a contradiction in lacking the autonomy to concede issues but possessing the autonomy to raise new issues. Either one has control of a case and possesses decision-making authority (which for example leads to delay through adjournments when new issues are raised) or one doesn’t and instead acts on instructions. HOPOs have it both ways: they say they act on instructions when asked to concede issues and that they simply don’t have the authority, yet they have no such problems in raising new issues without consulting their managers or ECO ‘clients’. “It is necessary in the interests of justice!” you may say, to raise all pertinent issues. Firstly, this is entirely unreal and would mean all aspects of all immigration rules having to be examined in all cases if taken to its logical conclusion. This is an appeal after all, not the initial decision. Secondly, if I did the same thing in another area of law, I’d quite rightly be strung up. I can’t go around raising new issues on behalf of my client without seeking instructions first, it would be an appalling breach of my professional obligations. What if I went into a child care contact dispute and laid into mother on behalf of father without checking with him first, because I thought it was in his best interests and she had it coming?

    The autonomy and CMR points are symptomatic of a ‘win at all costs’ mentality which I would say is inappropriate. My underlying point is that a code of conduct would cast light on and clarify these sorts of issues in everyone’s minds.

  8. FM,

    If you cant “be bothered” to utilize the complaints procedures, so be it, I must say I find your response on this point rather disappointing – I further note that you failed to address the other options of complaining directly to PO’s team / unit manager, will the response be again “cant be bothered”, come on you cant have it both ways – if you want to give feedback to PO’s please don’t confine this to what you say over the internet – again – don’t just gripe – take action.

    On the un-lawful detention point, it seems that debate will be settled in the courts, so be it, I maintain that the community have a right to be protected from foreign prisoners, with no right to be in this country, and the Home Office have a duty in this regard and their actions are proportionate.

    I hear what you say on CMR’s – I think you fail to understand the point on resources, you suggest that allowing the substantive PO “as much room as possible to argue the case” is a bad thing – I simply disagree.

    We come full circle round the point on their being a code of conduct; I won’t rehearse what I have already said. I had hoped the wait for your response would glean something constructive, something positive, something describing how matters could be taken forward, I will carry on waiting, for me the glass remains half full.



  9. With reference to making a complaint, imagine complaining in writing to ukba about a preceived wrong doing at a foreign clearance post. What are you likely to achieve there? At best, maybe an apology. Or, highly unlikely, a climbdown and granting of clearance. Or at worst any further information submitted in the complaint may be seized upon and potentially used as evidence against the appellant in a future appeal. You are quite simply complaining to your ‘opponent’.

    And what of the Ombudsman? O.k he/she can publicly criticise but effectively has no teeth as such. Freemovement’s comment about the complaints procedure, albeit about different issues, rings true with me, and i daresay with mr t and many others.

    As with local councils and other public bodies I have found that complaints procedures appear firmly and fairly in place for all to use. The reality however is that it falls on deaf ears, appearing to be merely a facade, just geared to dismissing the protestations of the trouble causing peasant with the minimum of fuss. Perhaps this is the reason people are using the internet and sites such as this to voice their indignation. The same reason we see tabloid horror stories of mr bloggs reluctantly having to emigrate from his own country because he can’t get justice for his chinese girlfriend. The same reason we see titles like ‘fee cheque bounces’. Why is it that public humilliation seems to be the only way to get any justice or results these days? And how long till big brother tries to close down sites such as this? We have already witnessed a distinguished looking gentleman being arrested in government.

    Incidentally, has anyone out there ever had any form of immigration refusal overturned as a direct result of a complaint of maladministration by the border agency or a clearance post?

  10. My experience with complaints is just that: experience. As you will detect, I have strong feelings about this. I’ve tried it more than once and it was a waste of time. I’m not willing to waste any more of my time making complaints when I have no faith at all that they will be acknowledged never mind properly investigated and I am also concerned that it might even prejudice my client. For example, there is an ongoing appeal in which I was involved in which I thought the HOPO behaved disgracefully before the hearing and then cross-examined a twelve year old child for an hour and a half. I simply do not think it is worth making a complaint, and we are pursuing the appeal process instead. I am also worried that a complaint may be held against the client in some way.

    I actually recommended making a complaint to an ECO at St Petersburg only last week. However, on reflection I decided not to bother, or at least certainly not until a visa has eventually been issued once the inevitably successful appeal has been allowed. It would take a good hour or so to write the complaint at a time when the client has what was wanted. The ECM, who supposedly reviews the decision, had literally cut and pasted the ECO’s legally nonsensical comments from earlier in the case. The solicitor had already written multiple representations to try and get the obviously wrong decision overturned but received no reply at all.

    With no code of conduct and, as far as I am aware, no independent regulator in place, I really just do not see the point. I’m sorry if that is disappointing to those at the Home Office, but I am more engaged than most and if even I don’t see the point the Home Office has to recognise that the previous years and years of failure to even respond to or acknowledge complaints has had its effect. I am certainly unwilling to be told that I should not just gripe but should take action. I do take action, I volunteer in numerous ways to try and change things for the better (and write this blog) but I only have so much time and I do not choose to waste it on activities I regard as entirely pointless.

    On CMRs, I meant argue the case one way – to get it dismissed. There is always room for the HOPO to dredge up something new (and without notice) with which to fight the case, there is never room for the HOPO to concede an obviously hopeless point or one that was wrongly taken by the decision maker. All this pushes HOPOs inexorably in one direction by determining their mindset: get the appeal dismissed at all costs, fight, never surrender. This is not professional and, for a CPS prosecutor, would be a breach of duty. I should say that HOPOs do sometimes make it fairly clear they are not seriously relying on an issue, but that does not prevent the IJ from relying on it as there was no actual concession and it does not neutralise the point about determining the mindset.

    On foreign prisoners, a very interesting argument was run at the hearing in which the judge was apparently very interested: that it is discriminatory (nationality or race, take your pick) to detain foreign prisoners beyond the end of their prison sentence on the basis that they are a danger to the community, but not to do the same with home-grown criminals. Home grown criminals are released even though they are assessed as a high risk of re-offending, after all. Some may wish we could throw away the key, but we can’t and don’t. Yet that is what the Home Office has tried to do in foreign prisoner cases. There are cases where there is a prospect of removal, in which case detention might be appropriate for that purpose, but there are plenty of cases I have come across of very long term detention where there is clearly no prospect of removal. My record is 22 months of immigration detention following on from a 10 month prison sentence (of which half is served). The Home Office is no closer to removal now than at the start and even accepts that the client is fully co-operating.

    Mind you, I shouldn’t complain, I’ve got quite a bit of unlawful detention work going on right now. Some might well baulk at the size of the damages claims in some of these cases, though, and the media coverage is unlikely to be sympathetic to the detainees.

  11. FM

    I have had a little better experience with complaint letters than yourself. I wrote three times to the IND, and got three replies. Their last letter pointed me to the “Customer Services Dept” of the FCO. I wrote to the FCO four times. The first three times I got replies but not the fourth.

    However despite the six replies, none of them attempted to answer the main question, just the peripheral questions, and certainly no sign of a managerial reveiw.

    As I got no further than just replies, I have gone back to the BHC. I have managed (through threat of law suite) to get an agreement to a meeting, but their last email to me agreed a date some three weeks prior to when I received it. Unfortunately I’m Mr T not Dr Who, and so hope to agree a meeting date during my next overseas visit.

    PS The appeal (refused) where I was a sponsor was at Hatton Cross.

  12. Mr T,had you been Doctor Who I would have borrowed your tardis and,with a bit of assistance from Billie Piper :-) , reversed the errors made in trying to legitimise my partner’s status!….

  13. Hello all,

    I’ve been visiting this site frequently in the last few months, mainly in search of any useful information that would help me with my long-term predicament, but also because you, people, who contribute to the site, in particular Free Movement (being the main culprit), seem to care about those that the government wants to ‘exterminate’ and make invisible, which kind of helps me live in a way.

    My status – temporary admission for 9 years and 3 months. It may well become temporary one day (soon ?), but certainly it is a bit funny to say to people that you don’t have a settled status after so many years, but rather you have been ‘on probation ?’ for 9 years, only temping.

    Almost five years to initial decision, refusal of asylum , of course, with many mistakes in the standard letter of refusal, presumably copied and pasted so many times before but without learning from past mistakes, maybe that’s one of the joys of the job, how many incorrectly stated facts is it possible to get away with?

    Adjudicator hearing – what a farce – unrepresented but prepared, with two bundles of reports, newspaper articles, everything done by the book, HOPO provided with bundles. Started making my ‘submissions’, she listened for a while, and made some notes, cut one of my points short. I continued, but she was obviously bored, looked at HOPO rolling her eyes (is that the face of justice?), but hey, HOPO was a very nice woman looking at me with interest and listening to what I was saying. I noticed the adjudicator stopped taking notes, she was not listening; she hasn’t read my case beforehand either. She said there was no need for me to go through the evidence as she was going to look through it in her ‘leisure time’. There was no point for me to disagree, I could have been talking to a wall. She made her decision before the hearing on the basis of the country guidelines decision (although all cases were to be examined individually for any exceptional circumstances). But HOPO was nice, she told me in the end I did a much better job in presenting my case than many solicitors do.
    Adjudicator made her decision – many mistakes – incorrect findings of fact – how much were they paid? There may be one good outcome of 2-tier system changing to 1-tier – maybe the worst ones lost their jobs?

    AIT – had a help from a solicitor/barrister for this one – one of the grounds was unfair adjudicators hearing – tribunal judges tore my barrister to pieces (unfortunately not a very experienced one, maybe this was his first case? – unlucky me) – how dare he criticise a senior adjudicator, she was clearly right, she clearly listened to everything, blah, blah, blah…. I think my barrister certainly has learned a lesson – no complaints against judges in the future – you are with us or against us. But what an arrogant and self-important bunch those tribunal so called judges that I saw were (referring to those that I’ve seen – I saw one who seemed nice by the way). Who employs those people?
    Comments were passed in the tribunal court room as if they were in a pub. “we send people back to Africa. And they claim asylum from Europe!?.” Etc.

    Was at High Court and Court of Appeal – different level of behaviour in the court., professional, dignified. However, they allowed Treasury Solicitor to be late with their grounds of defence for many months, I replied to TSols grounds of defence in 14 days as per CPR, but the judge refusing my JR on paper said ‘if further evidence was admissible at all (by me)’. What does this show, but bias from the start. Guilty until proven innocent. Asylum claimants evidence provided as per rules – not admissible. HO evidence – late many months – always welcome.

    So, I definitely agree that HO gives so many bad decisions, HOPOs are there to fight against asylum/immigration claimants come what may, which is a waste of public money and resources. But I’ve seen a good HOPO, although I have seen some angry ones as well. HO is a mess and it needs improvement badly.

    However what bothers me much more is how judiciary behaves. HOPOs don’t need to be lawyers and they obviously fight for the HO, but judges presumably have to have graduated law and worked as solicitors or barristers before? Judges are there to be fair and impartial. But are they?
    They should teach HO to respect court rules and not to favour them from the start.

    It’s late and I’m tired. Thank you Free Movement for your good work. Good night.

    1. I’m genuinely sorry to hear your story, Natasha. It must have been a very long nine years. It may be some consolation that your case must surely be considered a Legacy one, and that many Legacy cases do get favourable outcomes – eventually. There may be some good new on the way about permission to work, as well – see latest post. I’ll post some information up soon about getting in touch with the Case Resolution Directorate and, if I can find them, the latest statistics on Legacy cases yesterday released by Lin Homer. I couldn’t find a trace of them on the internet yesterday, other than press reports.

  14. For anyone who is remotely interested,I attended my first(and hopefully last!) immigration hearing recently as sponsor.
    First of all I also found the H.O.P.O to be a polite and relatively young man,who just appeared to be acting under orders from above.He didn’t try to aggressively make his points or question my credibility whatsoever.He seemed almost uncomfortable as he thrust the bundle into my reps hands,just two minutes before the hearing.The bundle incidently contained correspondence between myself and the clearance post,which was forwarded after the refusal.This proved that making complaints or providing further info,is indeed a risky undertaking.It left both the solicitor and myself in a difficult position.
    I was under the impression that the bundle was to be provided no less than five days before the hearing,and to spring new evidence upon us at this stage did seem unfair.The bundle had been prepared during August according to the embassy date!
    My main concern though,like Natasha,was the judge himself.Once again,very polite and obviously very well versed in immigration law.However it is a surreal experience sitting there with your personal life laid bare,your future suspended in the air,the judge arguing with himself over whether chapter so and so needs to be applied,and referring to certain test cases from the past.This has been one courtship for me which is far from the norm!
    It truly seems that compassion doesn’t really figure.It’s all about rules and laws,which is strange when dealing with humanity as opposed to commercial litigation or criminal matters.To make matters worse the judge then takes a week or two to make his mind up.Imagine the stress of tearing open that envelope in a few days time!
    I cannot criticise any of the people I met that day but if I could change anything it would be the speed at which the whole appeal process is undertaken.I can fully emphasise with the husband of the Jamaican lady as prolonged doubt and uncertainty erodes feelings of wellbeing,potentially leaving one mentally ill.I would willingly have re mortgaged my house to pay a fine for my partner’s breach,to allow clearance(the appeal has cost me thousands anyway).But to keep people in limbo?No it’s not good.

    1. I am certainly very interested, and I suspect the HOPO readers will be as well. It is all to easy for us to forget what our little world looks like from the outside. I get an inkling from working in other areas of law, but always as a legal professional inevitably. The one time it looked like I was going to have to give evidence as a lay person, at an Employment Tribunal, I was very nervous indeed.

      Thanks very much for sharing this with us, and I just hope you and your loved one get a positive result. It sounds like your hearing wasn’t too traumatic, at least, although no doubt it was an uncomfortable experience. I’ve had clients in tears, immigration judges shouting and being unreasonable and very difficult and/or aggressive POs. It doesn’t happen often, but it certainly happens.

  15. Freemovement.Thankyou also for the information on this site.It may even have swung the appeal in our favour,having taken action over what we’ve read on here previously.
    Regarding court, I’d tell anyone in a similar position to swot up on the entry clearance rules,even when using a lawyer,as one naive statement could blow the whole thing… Telling the judge you’ve almost bankrupt yourself trying to get clearance for him/ her,wouldn’t necessarily help with ‘adequate maintenance without recourse to public funds’ perhaps!!

  16. Sorry,just one final comment before I shut up (like yourself F.M i find it hard to let it lie sometimes!)
    Whilst I said I emphasise with Mr Brown,husband of the Jamaican lady,that’s not to say i’m excluding the rest of the family or people like Natasha who posted above.
    The question i wish to ask though is how must that English born man have felt throughout these cases?Presumably he has paid his taxes etc and grown up with a sense of belonging and loyalty to his country.So how must it feel then to be battling with our own people,who wish to force him out of his homeland or perhaps lose his marriage?What if he has doting nephews and nieces or an elderly mother in her twilight years with alzheimers? It must be a terrible wrench to move thousands of miles away to a strange land with doubtful employment prospects.
    Cynical readers could point out that it was his choice to settle with an overstayer and he should take the consequences.However can you imagine the chat up line when they first met?…’Hi gorgeous.Come here often? You look foreign.Are you legal?’ No i think not! Most likely the truth came weeks or months later.By which point,love being blind etc,it was probably just too hard to walk away.
    Perhaps he even agrees with the Home Office that she did wrong and disapproves too,but he is effectively stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea.
    Maybe I am naive and English people sometimes play the rules to get others into the country under false pretences.But speaking as an honest person it would be nice to see more credence given to the sponsor,as well as the appellant in these unfortunate circumstances.And above all,more encouragement for people to come clean and rectify things as early as possible.Thankyou and Amen!

  17. A and Freemovement, thank you for your replies.

    I absolutely agree with you A, humanity does not (or rarely) figure much in immigration related proceedings. The same rules do not apply to outsiders and natives.

    I respect the right of a country to make their policies, laws etc re immigration. But there should be more respect for private life as per Article 8, which for me is not taken seriously and adequately in appeals. Immigration control always wins – there is no reasonable balancing exercise.

    If my case did not take the HO so many years to decide, I wouldn’t have felt so bad about the negative outcome, I would try and go somewhere else. Half a year, maybe max a year would not make such a lot of difference in my life. But to be allowed to live here, for 4 years and 9 months in my case, and then be told that you had a valid reason when you came to the country, but things are now much better where you came from and that I should go back, is absolutely not right in my opinion (and experience). I feel that UK is my country. My real country is not mine any more – even if I have to leave here I would try and go somewhere else. But nobody cares.

    If I had different priorities in life and had decided to have children when my situation was uncertain (I have been in a long term relationship for more than 8 years), I would now be allowed to stay here. And I see that as unfair as well. HO is only interested in targets and lying to their own people about the true situation. Legacy priorities are people on benefits and with children – they are going to be given statuses, made homeless and in priority need and therefore will qualify for council housing. They will disappear from NASS support statistics and the country will be told that they support fewer asylum seekers than before and how HO has been successful in enforcing immigration controls etc, when in fact, people may just be supported by DWP and LAs. I don’t see policies based on public appeasing targets being good for the country at all. Surely the country should prefer people who integrate into the society better – should not that be one of the priorities? (of course, those persecuted and in humanitarian need should be given refugees statuses, DL or HL – so no I am not excluding them).

    I am sorry, but there is so much anger in me after all of these years, If I sound too caustic, please understand.

    Thank you for listening.

  18. Natasha you are dead right.Integration seems to be the biggest issue with the people i’ve spoken to and you should certainly be given credit for fitting into uk life.(or a medal even!).The biggest problem is that the British people also need educating in politeness,civility and learning to treat foreign people as guests rather than second rate citizens.It’s a two way thing.People need to feel welcome before they can begin to adapt.I’m inclined to blame the media and gutter press for adversely influencing people’s opinions on immigration.
    i truly hope things come right for you.It sounds a very deserving case

  19. Thank you, A, for your kind words, I hope your partner gets a positive decision as well.

    I agree that there is a problem in how some British people treat newcomers. And I agree that the media is to blame for lots of things. I remember some articles which appeared in tabloids, like – asylum seekers eat swans, or asylum seekers are given mobile phones, there was something about donkeys as well, cannot remember.
    But, I blame the government more. British jobs for British people, Mr B says. Or that guy Woolas with lots of hate inducing statements. Or Blunket in the past. and many more.
    One example, the common statement of the government and HO – UKBA will get tough on immigration – this sends the message to people that immigration and immigrants are bad. All different kinds of immigration categories are put together. plus, journalists quite often don’t know much about immigration and use improper terms to perpetuate the confusion.

    But the government and people in power don’t only talk, unfortunately, they put in place bad policies. laws and rules.
    No right to work for asylum seekers for years can only alienate them from the main society. If they are allowed to stay in the end, it may take some or many years to get them into work again. Not being able to work is not healthy, and it is a bar for people to properly integrate.


  20. It is a pity closer examination is not made of corrupt legal representatives who assist their clients to obtain false and fraudulent documents in support of their appeals. Who reproduce Home Office documents in their appea lbundles and charge large fees for this. Who do not know and understand the immigration rules and continue with hopeless cases for the fees they know they will obtain.

    Not all HOPOs are perfect but none are as corrupt as some legal firms regulated and unchallenged!

    1. I’ve permitted this comment and corrected the spelling a little. I assume you are referring to Woolas’ rant a few months ago, or perhaps the appalling piece of journalism that The Torygraph published a couple of weeks later based on a very old story from 2000 originally investigated and published by The Indie, but apparently based on some sort of Home Office briefing.

      Well, I’m sorry for your ignorance. I’ve never accused HOPOs of being corrupt and never would, I have to point out.

  21. Sorry about my spelling but when one has a rant these things happen.

    My comments are nothing to do with Woolas or the Indie but personal experience.

    I read with interest you thinking HOPOS are a waste of money but you clearly operate with an agenda and fixed mind set.

    Interestingly remind yourself of procedure rules and what should and what should not happen in court. 5 days to present bundles very rarely happens in my experience.

    Surely you agree that ILLEGAL immigration needs to be addressed? People who arrive illegally, avoid detection and are here purely for economic reasons need to be removed?… or do you?

    Another rant but surely thats what such blogs are for :)

    1. I’m not sure that I accept the desirability of borders at all, frankly. I sometimes wonder if what sounds now to many like an obviously wrong point of view might later be come to be seen as the humane and forward thinking position, perhaps comparable to those oddballs that considered blacks to be equal to whites or women to be equal to men. Discrimination on the basis of nationality seems as illogical to me as discrimination on the basis of race or for any other reason. National boundaries and nation states could be said to be an historical anomaly, and perhaps we will eventually revert to normality. Immigration law in the UK was 100 years old only three years ago, after all, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that serious immigration control was introduced.

  22. Sorry if this is a bit late, but google reader only just recommended this blog to me.

    As a HOPO of several years standing I have to agree that a lot of my colleauges seem to have forgotten what their purpose is something that was confirmed when I recently appeared before a panel of Senior Immigration Judges who praised me for my refreshing approach to the cases before them.

    There is no restriction on HOPO’s stopping us from conceding issues in appeals as far as I am aware, and this is not something I have shied from doing in the past, what we are not allowed to do is concede the case without permission from a senior person, this has left me many times in the farcical position that I concede all the issues in the appeal (for instance accept that all the aspects of an immigration rule are met) but still have to ask the IJ to dismiss the appeal.

    This is a kafkaesque approach to our job but is usually the most practical way of approaching a case, and one I have not been challenged on yet.

    I was taught (all those years ago) that my position was that of an officer of the court albeit one employed directly by the Crown, and my reason for being in court was to ensure that the correct decision was made by the IJ and not simply to win a case at all costs, something that is hard when you are told to work to a target of 85% dismissed cases in asylum.

    I would ask though that some sympathy is given towards HOPO’s who are watching their resources dwindle as people leave and are not replaced, while money is thrown at the asylum teams and other new ideas that just don’t work. Try to remember we are only human and are working in an incredibly stressful situation, that little bit of sympathy might be reciprocated towards your client.

    1. Thanks for reading, and for your thoughtful post. There are quite a few POs out there like you, and I’ve come across two in the last two weeks who have taken a very realistic approach and have made important issue concessions without actually saying they were conceding the appeal. I’m really shocked by the 85% target, though – is that really a measured target, or is it more of an informal yardstick?

    2. Sorry I didn’t reply earlier but I didn’t get the email notification taht someone had replied.

      The 85% dismissal rate is a target specifically set for individual POUs (along with a target of 100% representation) to meet or attempt to meet (it is rarely done), though I have to admit that they haven’t put out the statistics on this one in the last couple of months.

      This is something that is completely seperate from the conclusion targets that the asylum teams have for their monthly cohorts.

      As to the issue of if I can conceed issues that DSB syas I am wrong on, ask to see the standard minute sheet that HOPOs are required to complete and you will see that it has a section for us to detail any concessions or undertakings we have made in court. If we aren’t allowed to conseed anything why would the powers that be have included this on the form?

  23. The 85% ‘target’ was a National one set some time ago. Since the introduction of NAM the target is on ‘conclusions’ not win rates and is set on Asylum teams not on PO Units.

    Figures are kept and distributed on allowed and dismissed outcomes as well as removals but this is just good management practice in my opinion.

    And with respect to Ageing HOPO he does not have the ability to concede anything he just indiocates t othe judge that the particlar part of the rule may well be satisfied. His/Her instructions are to do nothing more than present the case as it is!