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On Thursday the Immigration Law Practitioners Association celebrated its 25th anniversary, just down the corridor of power from the Westminster committee room where the first meeting was held on 9th July 1984.
The current Director, Alison Harvey, did a marvellous job tracking down and inviting various historic figures and quite a few of the original attendees were present. Some, sadly, are now dead. Larry Grant deserves a special mention, and he got one. The latest generation was well represented as well, with various executive committee and subcommittee members, trainers and supporters turning out in force.
Laurie Fransman QC explained the run up to the foundation of ILPA and his cunning ploy to enlist the support of the reluctant but influential immigration team at 2 Garden Court – offer life presidency to Ian Macdonald! Rick Scannell, former long serving chair of ILPA, reminisced on the battle against the proposed ouster clause in the 2004 Act, arguably one of ILPA’s greatest successes. He reminded us all of how appalling the proposal had been: complete immunity for the Home Office from the rule of law. It is truly incredible that it was even proposed, never mind seriously pursued by the Government. Mahmud Quayam of Camden Community Law Centre and an original attendee lamented the growth in immigration law, bringing with him the 34 pages that constituted the available, published body of immigration law in 1984 and comparing it to the brick that is Phelan and Gillespie. Steve Symonds, the current legal officer, looked to the future and the so-called ‘simplification’ bill due to be published some time this century.
And then we all went for a few drinks, in true ILPA fashion.
ILPA is an incredibly important organisation in UK immigration law. The public rarely sees what goes into the making of the laws of this land. Bismarck remarked that laws were like sausages in that respect: it is best not to see what goes into them. I’ve seen the ingredients, and it does make me queasy. Virtually the only proper scrutiny, questions and amendments come from ILPA, who feeds them to the few vertebrate parliamentarians we are lucky to have.
The immigration law mess would be even worse than it is now if it weren’t for ILPA. However, ILPA is nothing without members and supporters giving up their time and energy, and I strongly encourage those interested in immigration law to join, lend a hand and attend training courses.