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RLC office now a wine bar


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In the selfless pursuit of immigration-related gossip and news, last Friday I went along to a gathering at a wine bar that was formerly the office of the Refugee Legal Centre. The surroundings have been somewhat improved since the RLC days, it turned out.

The gathering was organised by two ex members of staff and there was quite an impressive turn out. A single bomb, collapsing roof or similar would have wiped out some of the country’s finest asylum lawyers. The Home Office and Legal Services Commission would have been distraught, I’m sure.

Barry Stoyle was not there, sadly. Before his departure in 2005, he was perceived to be very remote by many staff. Nevertheless, he set up RLC, he negotiated its funding from the Home Office and he led it while it became a breeding ground for excellent asylum lawyers.

RLC has quite a history and some remarkable people have worked for the organisation over the years. Even now RLC is still responsible for a number of leading cases and for pushing the boundaries on behalf of their clients.

Someone said to me that it was amazing to see what everyone had gone on to do. Well, it wasn’t that amazing. With some impressive exceptions, we are all immigration lawyers or judges, basically. There were five immigration judges there who had formerly worked at RLC. Despite their past work on behalf of asylum seekers, some of them have far from liberal reputations. I’m not aware of anyone who has tried to run this type of argument in immigration law yet, against membership of either a ‘pro’ immigration group or an ‘anti’ one, although I have previously posted my opinion of immigration judges who later join an anti-immigration lobby group like Migration Watch.

I wish I could report that David Chirico was seen leaving with Razia Kekic, or that Marks Symes and Henderson had a fist fight over who was the Daddy, but everyone was really quite well behaved. Shame, really.

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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.