The Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) has issued a statement on the Safety and Protection of Immigration Practitioners:
"An independent legal profession is fundamental to ensuring access to justice, equality before the law, and the proper functioning of a democracy. This is an international legal principle, which has also been recognised by the UK government.
We believe the government should do its utmost to create conditions in which lawyers are able to freely perform their professional duties, and are safeguarded by authorities if their security is threatened as a result of carrying out their professional role.
The compromising of lawyers’ independence by external pressure can have extremely negative consequences for the right to access justice.
Nevertheless, in recent years, senior politicians and a number of media outlets have fostered a climate of hostility towards immigration practitioners by attacking the legitimacy of immigration lawyers exercising their proper function in our democracy.
Many tenants of Garden Court Chambers are members of ILPA. We recommend reading the full statement, available here.
ILPA’s statement joins a wave of criticism to the government's increasingly inflammatory rhetoric on immigration matters.
The Bar Council and Law Society also issued a joint statement in defence of immigration lawyers, after Jacqui Mackenzie was targeted by Conservative Central headquarters who shared a dossier of information about her with the national media.
The statement read:
"The legal community is gravely concerned by the experience of immigration solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie.
"No lawyer should be criticised, or made the subject of a targeted campaign, for doing their job. Everyone is entitled to legal representation, and it is a United Nations basic principle that lawyers should not be identified with the causes of their clients as a result of representing them.
"That is why – as we have said repeatedly – it is wrong to describe lawyers as ‘lefty’ or ‘activist’ simply on the basis of the causes they advocate on behalf of their clients.
"Lawyers who represent their clients are not only doing nothing wrong, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do in playing their part in ensuring that the rule of law is upheld. Ms McKenzie has been doing exactly what she is supposed to do as an immigration solicitor, acting in the best interests of her clients within the constraints of the law.
"Political leaders know that lawyers represent their clients within the legal framework that parliament creates and CCHQ should seriously reflect on what has happened in this case.
"Language and actions that unfairly undermine confidence in the independence of the legal professions, and potentially risk the safety of lawyers, will ultimately undermine confidence in our entire justice system and the rule of law."
Garden Court Chambers strongly supports ILPA’s position, which follows the joint statement from the Bar Council and Law Society, in defence of immigration lawyers targeted for doing their jobs, which is as an attack on equal access to justice and the rule of law.