Unfortunately, Miwa Hirono has become the victim of Daily Mail-peddled nationalistic, anti-immigrant, political ideology, which has Home Office staff lawyers obliged to appeal every immigration tribunal success (“Migrant scholars’ ‘precarious and temporary’ status will cost UK dear”, Opinion, 26 March).
The foolproof way that the lawyers have found to do this is to state, as clearly was done in Hirono’s case, that the judicial decision-maker has not clearly identified the reasons for their decision. If my students can clearly see the reason for the decision, surely these well-paid Home Office lawyers can – but by appealing on these grounds, they can guarantee returning the case to the courts. What the Home Office hopes will happen is that the people who are fighting for their right to stay will run out of energy and (more to the point) the money to continue their fight, and will return to their home countries.
Only those fortunate, “unfortunate few”, asylum seekers – whose only form of income is food vouchers and so who qualify for some form of legal aid – can conceive of continuing the endless battle. They then have to go through an appeal hearing in order to seek permission to further appeal their application to stay in the UK to what is known as the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), but which in reality is a subset of the Supreme Court. If they get that far, they will discover that quite often the Home Office will then give up – not wanting the costs of the specialist barristers needed to fight a case in the Supreme Court – and find a basis upon which the person can stay in the UK.
We are seeing that, without any oversight, the rule of law and any idea of justice are being undermined repeatedly by this current government. The real question is whether any post-election regime will have the guts to shelve this dishonesty from the Home Office, respect the decisions made in the immigration tribunal, and treat applicants with the fairness that the rest of us expect from our justice systems.