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An attack which attracted a right hook to the left!

Aug 18, 2023

Laura Charge Head of Communications and Compliance

In the Guardian this morning Aamna Mohdin, spoke critically about the government hitting out at lawyers who had successfully challenged Home Office asylum decisions. (Mohdin, 2023).

Notably, Suella Braverman summoned the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to escalate a high-profile campaign against rogue immigration lawyers. The roundtable was billed as the ‘official launch’ of a dedicated task force set up to increase enforcement action against lawyers who help migrants exploit the immigration system. Legal professional bodies, including the Law Society, questioned what was new about the task force and warned against the trap of identifying lawyers with their clients. The government lays one punch for this to be countered by the press and professional bodies.

This brawl of newsprint follows the Daily Mail’s investigation into clients appearing to be coached to lie in their asylum claims by professional advisers. Following the article, the Lord Chancellor wrote to the SRA asking what action was being taken in response, and within a week three firms had been shut down and three solicitors prevented from practising.

It’s convenient for the government to blame someone else when their policies aren’t working, or when they’re getting bad press. These attacks on legal professionals have steadily increased as the government has failed to meet its pledges around immigration. Yet one must ponder how an individual cannot be accommodated on a barge as they fear water. Interesting noting they crossed one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world on an inflatable dinghy. One could reasonably assume an element of coaching from one source or another.

Lawyers are an easy target because there is a perception amongst the public that they are well-paid. This is not always the case for those working in criminal or immigration work but is likely to be true for those working in commercial firms. It does remain of course that unscrupulous individuals will exploit others for their gain. We would be foolish to assume that it is just the people traffickers who fit this description.

As a former Immigration Officer, I am keen to crack down on endless legal challenges which frustrate removals and hide the genuine asylum claimants amongst huge numbers of spurious claimants. I am pleased to report that our firm like many others is officiated and regulated by the OISC, and we work hard to provide accurate and lawful advice to all our clients. I am pleased that our leadership team does not treat the level of professionalism demanded by the OISC as the goal but more so as a minimum which we consistently strive to exceed.

We like many others do not wish to be tarred with a brush that marks us as a target for attack.

Mohdin, A. (2023, August 18). Friday briefing: Years of attacks have dragged the legal profession into the culture wars. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/aug/18/friday-briefing-years-of-attacks-have-dragged-the-legal-profession-into-the-culture-wars
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