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A collection of Left-wing groups have made legal challenges in a bid to block ministers’ plan to send migrants to Rwanda. They are represented by lawyers who in many cases have links to the Labour Party and a lengthy record of bringing cases against the Government.
Barristers from the trendy London human rights chambers – co-founded by Cherie Blair – represented the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Care4Calais and Detention Action yesterday.
One was top QC Raza Husain, who last month retweeted a message by Labour MP Chris Bryant criticising Boris Johnson’s response to Partygate that said: ‘Downing Street under him has been a cesspit of arrogant, entitled narcissists.’ Mrs Blair left the chambers in 2014.
A separate challenge to the Rwanda policy by charity Asylum Aid, due to be heard in court on Monday, was lodged by law firm Leigh Day, which was accused of being behind a ‘witch-hunt’ of British troops in Iraq.
The firm and three of its solicitors – including senior partner Martyn Day – were cleared of a string of misconduct allegations following a disciplinary hearing in 2017. They had been charged by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority after the Ministry of Defence submitted a lengthy dossier of alleged wrongdoing, including claims they caused innocent troops years of torment.
Leigh Day worked with Birmingham solicitor Phil Shiner to represent Iraqi clients in parallel legal actions. Mr Shiner was struck off as a solicitor for dishonesty over his handling of war-crime allegations against the Army.
The thwarted lefty cabal that tried to stop the Rwandan flight include the former Labor Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair
Asylum Aid’s legal team also includes several barristers from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s former chambers, Doughty Street.
They include leading human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy QC, who has been an active and outspoken Labour peer since entering the House of Lords as Baroness Kennedy after the general election in 1997. It is also where Amal Clooney, the lawyer wife of film star George, practises.
Robert Latham, who retains an associate tenancy at Doughty Street, supported Sir Keir’s leadership campaign with a donation of £100,000.
DUNCAN LEWIS SOLICITORS
Acting for the PCS union, Care 4 Calais and Detention Action, Duncan Lewis has a long track record of bringing challenges against government immigration measures.
In 2020, The Mail on Sunday revealed the firm had received £55 million in legal aid from the British taxpayer in just three years. The paper also told how the company’s staff have travelled to Calais and offered support to refugees hoping to reach Britain.
Owned by entrepreneur Amarpal Singh Gupta, who has been dubbed ‘Britain’s legal aid king’, the firm has forged a close relationship with charities that work among refugee camps on the French coast. Staff have also reportedly boasted of mixing with senior Labour Party figures, including deputy leader Angela Rayner and foreign spokesman David Lammy.
Bella Sankey, director of campaign group Detention Action, is a former would-be Labour MP endorsed by Sir Keir. Like the Labour leader many years before, Miss Sankey previously worked at Liberty, the campaign group for civil liberties which has long been a recruiting ground for Labour politicians.
PUBLIC AND COMMERCIAL SERVICES UNION
The union’s firebrand general secretary Mark Serwotka was kicked out of the Labour Party in 1992 for being a member of the Trotskyist group Socialist Organiser. In 2016, he rejoined Labour, saying his long-time friend Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership offered a ‘genuine break from the past’. In recent years, he has called for a General Strike to ‘bring the Tories down’.
Demonstrators protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice while the legal case over halting the planned deportation, thrown out today by the sitting judge, was heard
The charity was at the centre of a scandal in 2017 when it emerged its married founder Clare Moseley, a former accountant and then 46, had a year-long affair with Mohamed Bajjar, then 27. He had falsely claimed to be a Syrian refugee, but was in reality a Tunisian market-stall trader married to another British woman.
The charity is currently embroiled in a Charity Commission inquiry over ‘serious governance concerns’.
Its Cambridge-educated director Alison Pickup leads a team providing legal representation to asylum seekers and refugees. She was previously legal director of the Public Law Project – and before that had a practice at Doughty Street Chambers, where she specialised in immigration, asylum and migrants’ rights in the context of unlawful detention, community care, asylum support and access to justice.
Among her achievements, Doughty Street Chambers’ website lists her as having been junior counsel in ‘two of the leading challenges to the legal aid cuts’.
One was the successful challenge to the proposed ‘residence test’ for legal aid, the other established that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to respect for private and family life – may require legal aid to be provided in immigration cases.