Britain’s Home Office has set up a taskforce in an effort to step up enforcement action against what Home Secretary Suella Braverman (pictured) described as “crooked immigration lawyers”.
Braverman yesterday (8 August) called the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to a meeting that also involved the Lord Chancellor and the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.
“The vast majority of lawyers act with professionalism and integrity but, as recent media reports have demonstrated, a small minority have been helping illegal migrants stay in the UK by encouraging them to make false claims,” a Home Office statement said.
The talks followed an undercover investigation by the Daily Mail that showed clients appearing to be coached by professional advisers to lie to support asylum claims.
After the investigation, the SRA shut down three firms and prevented three solicitors from practising, pending a full investigation.
The Home Office said that the Professional Enablers Taskforce was bringing together regulatory bodies, law-enforcement teams and government departments “to increase enforcement action against lawyers who help migrants exploit the immigration system”.
Richard Atkinson (Law Society of England and Wales Deputy Vice-President) expressed scepticism about the announcement, saying that the ‘taskforce’ had been around for months.
“It is not clear what, if anything, the government is announcing today,” he said.
“The government, regulators and law enforcement agencies already have the powers they need to deal with immigration advisers engaged in misconduct.
“The overwhelming majority of immigration lawyers continue to support the rule of law through their adherence to the law and professional standards set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and provide an essential service to clients.
“The focus of the Home Office on a tiny minority of lawyers to which they are apparently applying considerable resources should not deflect from the fact that there remain significant backlogs in asylum claims or the unworkability of the Illegal Migration Act,” Atkinson concluded.