That-was-the-weekThe Home Office was criticised over a number of schemes designed to target immigration offences. The first was using public money to drive vans with slogans on the side telling illegal immigrants to go home “aimlessly” around London, a scheme described as “stupid and offensive” and unlikely to have any real effect other than to create a sense of fear that the UK has a real problem with immigration. Stop-and-check operations were carried out near tube stations, with Home Office officials stopping members of the public to check their immigration status. There were complaints that there was obvious racial profiling at hand, and new Labour peer Doreen Lawrence pledged to challenge the spot checks in the House of Lords. Amid warnings this heavy-handed approach could “incite racial tensions” the Home Office have been unapologetic:

“We make no apology for enforcing our immigration laws and our officers carry out hundreds of operations like this every year around London.

“Where we find people who are in the UK illegally, we will remove them.”

On Tuesday Lord Justice Leveson sitting in the Court of Appeal criticised the legal team representing refugees who had been jailed for carrying false documents. The appellants had not been advised that they had a defence available to them under s 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which provides for refugees coming directly to the UK from a country where their life or freedom was threatened. The judgment stated:

“If the circumstances and instructions generate the possibility of mounting a defence under s.31 of the 1999 Act, there is simply no excuse for a failure to do so… it is both surprising and disturbing that neither solicitors nor counsel appear to have been aware of the position in law and we repeat that this situation should not recur in the future.”

Sir Sydney Kentridge KCMG QC retired. The Bar Council paid tribute to an “inspirational” man with an extraordinary career at the Bar in South Africa and the UK. Not only was Sir Sydney instructed by Nelson Mandela, he went on to represent him at his treason trial in the 1950s. He also represented the family of Steve Biko, and following relocation to the UK and established himself as a distinguished constitutional lawyer. He was in the Supreme Court on his 90th birthday in R (Prudential plc & Anor) v Special Commissioner of Income Tax & Anor [2013] UKSC 1.

The High Court ruled on a dispute between a school and the “unwarrantably interfering” parents of two of the students at the school, who had continually complained about the standard of education that their children had received and then went on to claim for breach of contract. The parents submitted that a contract had been formed when the school agreed to provide a reference relating to the children, and that it had been broken when the school informed another school considering whether to accept the children about the parents’ conduct. The claim was dismissed, with the behaviour of the couple described as “foolish, overbearing and demanding” and an “enduring nightmare” for the school.