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

Mind your language


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

The flunky that writes the Home Office press releases really needs to tone it down and get a grip. One of the latest batches of press releases is entitled ‘Tough new rules target bogus colleges and education cheats‘. The words ‘bogus’ and ‘cheats’ are very strong indeed. Yet there is nothing in the press release that justifies their usage. And this is far, far from the first time. Home Office immigration press releases increasingly read like BNP pamphlets.

OK, some colleges failed to get licences from the Home Office to sponsor students under the new Tier 4 scheme of the Points Based System. There could be plenty of reasons why colleges failed to get licences, as the Home Office conditions are really rather onerous. Maybe some of those colleges do have deficient systems in some way, or their student monitoring does not meet the Big Brother requirements of the Home Office licences, or they did not fully understand the highly complex application process. That does not make them ‘bogus’, nor does it make their students ‘cheats’.

The use of this type of language is highly damaging to the immigration debate. Ministers and officials, eventually followed by the press, were eventually shamed into abandoning words like ‘bogus’ in relation to asylum seekers, yet now we see it cropping up about general migrants. It is aggressive, it adds heat rather than reason to the debate, it encourages a highly polarised, defensive worldview and it is often plain inaccurate.

Shame on the Home Office.

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.


22 Responses

    1. That OGN really is a piece of work. I do feel sorry for you guys sometimes. Mind you, I’m perfectly familiar with the experience of attempting to put forward a case based on somewhat contradictory, rambling and un-evidenced instructions.

    2. Luckily though we don’t have to call our own witnesses (well only extremely rarely) for you to cross examine, rather the HOPO can just sit and shrug their shoulders.

    3. I tried to get a witness summons to force you chaps to call a witness the other day but got nowhere. This was probably a good thing, as cross examination is not exactly a skill that is well developed amongst immigration lawyers! I have to say that it isn’t terribly well developed amongst many HOPOs either. While I do sometimes come across a good cross examination that exposes valid issues, most of the time HOPOs seem to aim at a full recital of the claimant’s history in the hope of eliciting a fresh mistake of some sort. This would never be allowed in any other area of law.

    4. The witness summons does work on occassion, either that or we actually decide having a senior police officer or immigration official will help our case but only realy in complicated deport cases or the such.

      However watching the opposing rep try to ‘trick’ someone into saying something is an experience, but something I guess you and your colleagues would be used to FM.

      I try to make sure that my cross is limited to only a few issues and is direct and to the point, I try to watch the person I am questioning closely and have become quite adept at reading people and knowing if I am being lied to. But then I will inform the court when I feel that someone is being wholly truthful.

      This is reflected in my prep which is never usually more than a handwritten side or two of A4 , contrast this with colleages who type up 4-5 pages for each case.

      I guess this is due to my years and years and years of experience. Though I have to admit that when I’m not feeling 100% or get a bit distracted I can slip into a fishing expedition asking pointless question after pointless question, but then even the best of us have bad days :)

  1. He’s probably picked all that info up from the staff canteen; he’s probably a letter opener with delusions of self importance.

    1. I thought all HO staff were “Public Servants”.
      I wish they had appropriate attitudes to match.

    2. No dear we are civil servants, public servants are those oiky little council workers and the such ;)

    3. Generically all people who work in the public sector are “public servants” including the Prime Minister, because they are meant to “serve the public”.
      This, however is not the ethos of this Government, nor most left wing socialist or communist governments. Animal Farm is quite a poignant read at present.

    4. Sorry but Civil Servants are employees of the Crown not Parliament and not Joe Public.

      We work carry out the functions of government working to ministers who carry out devolved duties on behalf of the Queen.

      People seem to forget that we are a Constitutional Monarchy not a republic, and that the Queen could if she want disolve Parliament and run the country herself. Though of course this would cause as constitutional crisis as the constitutional conventions that exist now would be being ignored and we might have another civil war.

      Constitutional law, I love it. :)

    5. Mr T, if I had to adjudicate I’d say Ageing HOPO is right. The comment nesting has run out of levels anyway, so he/she wins by default anyway!

    6. FM

      I lost again! Oh well, I admit defeat.

      I’ll leave “Federal EU state membership” and “substence over legal form” discussions for another day when perhaps I might for once win, as if winning was the objective. I prefer to give interesting perspectives rather than just the legal positions.

  2. Your blog comes at the same time as a report about councils banning their staff from using a number of words including coterminous.

  3. SHOW US THE MONEY! Students need to show all the money upfront for course and living expenses- hot on the heels of getting rid of the out of country right of appeal:-

    “Important for (General) Students and (Child) Students aged 16 or 17 years living independently
    To qualify for Tier 4 of the Points Based System you must be able to demonstrate that you have the tuition fees and funds to support yourself and any dependants. The maintenance amount for the main applicant is calculated at £800 per month if you intend to study in the Inner London Boroughs (see below), and £600 per month if you intend studying elsewhere. For courses of up to 9 months duration you will be required to show that you have the full tuition fee plus the appropriate monthly amount for each month you intend to be in the UK. On a course of more than 9 months you will be required to show that you have the first year of the tuition fees plus either £7200 or £5400 depending on whether you intend to study inside or outside of the Inner London Boroughs (see below). These amounts must be held in your personal bank account for a minimum period of 28 days. The end of that 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of your application, for which you must show bank statements/other evidence.
    If you apply before 1 June 2009 you will only need to show proof that you have the money needed, on the day that you apply. You must still provide the correct documents to support your application.”

    1. “hot on the heels of getting rid of the out of country right of appeal” – What a really good way to rubber stamp really crap/embarassing/poor descisions. (Delete as appropriate)

    1. Indeed, but this time its costing them millions due to (more) unlawful behaviour by the HO. The 20% increase in visa fees may go only some way to cover these legal costs.