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The *blogging* lawyer


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So, the other day someone brought to my attention some internal Home Office emails about a Free Movement article. These were disclosed under a Freedom of Information request made by one Clarke Simpson, answered at the Home Office by one P. Zebedee (really?). The episode started off as a bizarre one and is now downright weird.

One day, browsing the Home Office website, as one does, I became irritated by what I thought was a rather inappropriate choice of image. You can see my screenshot below.


It was a picture of three smiling children but used to illustrate a story that has caused huge heartache to countless children and families: the Home Office appeal against the MM judgment, an appeal now allowed by the Court of Appeal. As an aside, the image choice for the news item about the appeal outcome was in some ways even worse, as you can see below from another screenshot. Who chooses these pictures?


Anyway, I tweeted out the original picture of the three children, and it turned out that one of the children was the daughter of one of my Twitter followers. She was horrified. On further investigation the image was copyrighted and the Home Office had tried to remove the child in question from the UK.

The story hit Buzzfeed and an apology was issued. You can see the unfolding Tweets here if interested.

The emails at the Home Office make quite amusing reading, especially the reference to “the blogging lawyer” (might I be described in Home Office circles as “the something else-ing lawyer” or am I flattering myself?), the “fingers crossed nobody spots this” passage and the bit where they make up a reason to explain why they removed the entire article rather than just the image. It does read as a very polite and expletive free version of a Malcolm Tucker exchange.

Brightened up my day when I read it, anyway.

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Colin Yeo

Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.


4 Responses

  1. Colin, I hate to be the one to deliver the bad news but you are flattering yourself, lawyers are nor unique neither are blogs, nor lawyers that have the time to blog (could there be a rise due to LASPO, answers on a postcard).

    What is reassuring was that this rather embarrassing email exchange was disclosed, and that my chums in the press office are not ‘Malcolm Tucker’ when it comes to statutory obligations under FOI.

    As to the use of the picture in question (given the back story), agreed, inappropriate, embarrassing and an avoidable own goal on the HO’s part.

    1. Oh well. :-)

      I had set some store by being “the” blogging lawyer, but it is true that I am but “a” blogging lawyer when it comes down to it. I’m still curious about why it is thought that the picture was uploaded in Islamabad – the whole thing is pretty weird.

  2. Oh dear, a bitter PO! Whatever next. If not unique, Colin, your work on this blog is of huge importance, whatever our friend the PO might say.

  3. Bitter! Me! I’m a huge fan of Colin’s, er, work.
    This blog is pretty specialist you must admit, the average press officer neither knows nor cares about the difference between deportation and removal or one convention from another, that is the context of this story.