'Crooked' lawyers who help small boats migrants lie to 'game immigration system' face life in prison

8 August 2023, 05:28 | Updated: 8 August 2023, 06:35

'Crooked' lawyers for migrants will face life in prison
'Crooked' lawyers for migrants will face life in prison. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Kit Heren

Lawyers who coach illegal migrants to lie to get permission to stay in the UK face life in prison.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The government has set up a taskforce to pursue "conmen" lawyers who set out to game the immigration system in return for money.

The Home Office said the group would include regulatory bodies, law enforcement teams and other Government departments, who would find and prosecute the lawyers.

These lawyers would be charged with "assisting unlawful immigration to the UK".

But the Law Society, a trade association that represents solicitors, said the number of "crooked" lawyers was tiny, and the government already had powers to deal with them.

Read more: Charity lawyers ‘block’ transfer of 20 migrants onto Bibby Stockholm as barge labelled ‘inhumane’ amid first boarding

Read more: First 15 migrants board Bibby Stockholm: Flanked by police single men move onto the controversial barge

People arrive by coach to board the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset
People arrive by coach to board the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Portland Port in Dorset. Picture: Alamy

It comes as the first group of migrants boarded the Bibby Stockholm barge on Monday. Around 20 more were blocked from going on the boat by lawyers for the charity Care4Calais, who claimed the conditions were inhumane for their clients. There is no suggestion any of these lawyers are being targeted by the taskforce.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman, speaking about the taskforce, said: "Crooked immigration lawyers must be rooted out and brought to justice.

"While the majority of lawyers act with integrity - we know that some are lying to help illegal migrants game the system. It is not right or fair on those who play by the rules.

"The British people want us to put an end to illegal migration - I am determined to crack down on these immoral lawyers and stop the boats."

Suella Braverman
Suella Braverman. Picture: Alamy

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ms Braverman said: "These conmen make it far harder to remove people who have no right to be here - and they must face the full force of the law.

"I want to see the worst offenders in jail and we have the laws in place to bring them to justice.

"I know our teams are working incredibly hard to root out those who game our asylum system and cheat the British public - this can't go on."

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: "The accuracy and honesty of legal advice underpins the integrity of our world-leading legal system, so those who undermine it by encouraging deception must be held to account.

'You keep saying you'll stop the boats - but the boats are still coming?' Shelagh Fogarty dismisses the government's Rwanda Policy

"This Government is committed to stopping the boats - that means breaking the business model of criminal gangs and holding to account unscrupulous lawyers who aid and abet them by abusing the legal system."

But Richard Atkinson, deputy vice president of the Law Society, said: "This 'task force' has been around for months now, so it is not clear what, if anything, the Government is announcing today."

He added: "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.

Caller: "I've not heard one migrant saying there's a problem living on a barge."

"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 remains significant backlogs in asylum claims or the unworkability of the Illegal Migration Act."

Bar Council chairman Nick Vineall KC said lawyers must observe ethical and conduct rules which apply to them while advising and representing their clients, with appropriate sanctions if they breach them.

He said: "The task force must not fall into the trap of identifying lawyers with the causes of their clients, nor should it assume that misbehaviour by clients amounts to misbehaviour by lawyers."

Labour's shadow justice secretary Steve Reed said it was "too little too late" and the "buck stops" with the Conservatives, accusing them of having "sat idly by for 13 years while illegal migration has spun out of control".

He said: "Now, weak as ever, they are setting up a talking shop instead of cracking down on those who abuse our immigration system."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Security Council meets before voting on a resolution concerning a ceasefire in Gaza at United Nations headquarters

US vetoes UN resolution demanding immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court in St George, Utah

YouTuber Ruby Franke apologises at sentencing in child abuse case

In an apparent attempt to get ahead of another possible rebellion, Labour on Tuesday tabled its lengthy amendment, which will be voted on tomorrow.

'I want to do what is right': Labour's ceasefire motion is 'broader' and 'goes further' than the SNP's, says David Lammy

Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war

Israel says Gaza war will only end when 'Hamas is dismantled' in direct reply to Prince William’s intervention

Palestinian crowds struggle to buy bread from a bakery in Rafah, Gaza Strip

UN World Food Programme suspends aid amid chaos in northern Gaza

David Neal has been sacked by the Home Office

Home Office fires immigration chief inspector David Neal after claims about security risks at major London airport

Exclusive
Shahd Waleed is trying to leave Rafah with her parents and enter Egypt

'They want us to experience pain': Young woman trapped in Rafah with her parents tells of terror as Israel invasion looms

Gabriela was fired from her job cleaning at Devonshires

Cleaner ‘fired after taking leftover £1.50 tuna sandwich’ speaks out against ‘unfair bosses’ as protesters target law firm

Before this announcement, Tesco only showed unit pricing on normal prices and not their special Clubcard prices.

Tesco announce big change to how it displays Clubcard prices - and it could save you money

Russian defector Maksim Kuzminov at a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, in September 2023

Spanish police suspect bullet-riddled body may be that of Russian who defected

Russia Ukraine War Putin’s Game

Zelensky says Russia ‘taking advantage’ of delays in assistance to Ukraine

Kristina Rihanoff claims Robin Windsor was in ‘excruciating pain’ before his sudden death

'May you dance with the angels': Robin Windsor's Strictly partner says dancer was in ‘excruciating pain’ before death

A man walks along the Naviglio Pavese canal shrouded in mist and smog in Milan, Italy

Milan imposes anti-smog measures during bout of bad air pollution

28-year-old Valeria Amorim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Pregnant woman killed after car crashes into group of people

Half of the Body Shop's UK stores are being closed

Body Shop to close half of its UK stores: Full list of stores shutting immediately

Now the 39-year-old is attempting to take his share and says that it was his idea to buy the scratch card.

Woman who bagged £1m lotto prize dumped boyfriend weeks later 'out of the blue' - but now he wants 'his' share