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Sunday 17 May 2020

Tories Trying To Nobble Judiciary

The behaviour of those within the Home Office under the less than benign leadership of supposed incumbent Priti Patel has, it seems, been not only raising eyebrows, but ruffling the feathers of the judiciary sufficiently for one of their number to remind Ms Patel’s gofers, in as diplomatic a way as possible, just who does the judging, and who does not.
It seems someone within the Home Office considered that judges were granting bail in too many cases. So a letter was dispatched to the President of the First-Tier Tribunal telling “the Home Office is somewhat surprised at the level of grants of bail in recent weeks”. This was, effectively, telling a judge that they were doing too much of this sort of thing.
As one might expect in immigration matters, Lawrence Youssefian, an immigration specialist at Goldsmith Chambers, noticed this, observing “Letter from the Home Office to the President of the First-tier Tribunal (IAC) regarding the high number of grants in bail, and a rather satisfying response from President Clements reminding them of the independence of the Judiciary”. The response being a proper judicial smackdown.
Immigration and asylum barrister Colin Yeo, in turn, picked up on the exchange, asking “Astonishing letter from a civil servant in a letter to a senior judge: ‘the Home Office is somewhat surprised at the level of grants of bail in recent weeks…’. Why on earth was this letter sent other than to influence the judiciary?” Why indeed.
At this point, The Secret Barrister also pitched in, concluding “It looks as if Home Secretary Priti Patel has been encouraging or permitting civil servants to attempt to influence independent judicial decisions. A public comment from the Lord Chancellor [Robert Buckland] on the rule of law and judicial independence would be welcome”. Quite.
And once again - as with the use of Government social media accounts to remotely rough up dissenting journalists, which I noted yesterday - there was a blatantly partisan and highly defensive intervention from the Home Office Twitter feed. “Completely untrue. The letter transparently explains our pandemic response including carefully reviewing cases. The Tribunal President said it was very helpful & informative”. Yeah, right.
The Tribunal President said it was helpful to the extent of thanking the sender for having sent it. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the next paragraph put it very directly: “As independent judiciary we decide bail applications in accordance with the law, which includes the guidance which has been issued. There has been no change in either the law or the guidance”. Or, put another way, butt out, matey.
Putting it as diplomatically as was possible in the circumstances, The Secret Barrister observed “Having to start a letter by reminding the Home Secretary that 'as independent judiciary we decide bail applications in accordance with the law' is a judicial Glasgow kiss. Utterly cutting. Humiliating for a minister to have to be publicly told this”.
And it got worse, as The Secret Barrister’s thread giving a step-by-step account of the exchange (see it HERE) was accompanied by the observation “The Home Office has responded to my earlier tweet by claiming that I have said something ‘completely untrue’. I take defamatory attacks on my character seriously”. The Home Office got caught trying to nobble the judiciary. Now it might end up having to say sorry for lying about it. Awkward.
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Anonymous said...

Err..no...on matters of immigration detention the Home Office has the final say and the Home Office is entitled to ignore a judge's decision to grant bail, it has the power to ignore a First-tier Tribunal's decision to grant bail to any immigration detainee. That is as it should be if the Home Office is to do it's job of protecting the citizens of this country.

Reminding Judges of their responsibilities on this regard would seem to be in order, unless of course you want to pick on this to make a political point!

Priti Riti Leti said...

"Where bail is granted, I would also ask you to consider whether Immigration Judges could provide written reasons for this. Whilst I realise this is not a requirement under the Procedure Rules, it would assist the Home Office to fully understand the reasons why bail has been granted, not least to improve our own decision making in the future." -
Extract From Home Office letter to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service

Anonymous said...

Obviously it should be made a requirement!

Anonymous said...

They are told why decisions are overturned. Just as they tell the Appellant.

The Home Office just dosent like to be shown in its true light...Abhorrent!

The moving finger points said...

Obviously, making it a requirement will make blame-shifting easier.