The lawyer who takes the cases no one wants | Aida Edemariam

The long read: It has never been easy to win as an immigration lawyer but now the government is trying to make it impossible

Two or three times a month, Tom Giles says goodbye to his wife and three children at their home in Abingdon, and drives north, through Oxfordshire, to Campsfield House immigration detention centre. This is Tory heartland rich fields, manicured villages, 4x4s. Campsfield sits at the end of a long country lane, opposite Oxford airports private jets and training planes. On the constituency map it is perched at the end of a Tory promontory: David Camerons Witney constituency flows down one side, Boris Johnsons former fiefdom of Henley down the other.

It is nearly 9am by the time Giles, a slight man with a gap between his teeth and a bright-eyed, youthful energy, presents himself at security. He places everything but a notebook and a pen in a locker, then is led through a series of locked doors to a small high-windowed room along a corridor lined with similarly small high-windowed rooms. He sits down at a desk, checks the handsets in front of him, finds a blank page in his notebook, and waits for his first client.

Over the next five hours, Giles sees a series of detainees for up to 30 minutes each. The men often wear standard-issue blue tracksuits and flip-flops because they were apprehended in the street and served with deportation orders, or taken from their homes at dawn and not allowed to pack their clothes, or arrived at a port with nothing. Some of them came to the UK to study and overstayed, others have lived and worked here for years. Others, exhausted after arduous journeys from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya or Iraq, have been here for a few days.

Giless job, as a legal aid immigration solicitor, is to work out if a person has a legal right to stay in the UK, and if so, to try his hardest to make that possible in a legal environment that is becoming more hostile by the day. As each prisoner explains his circumstances, Giles listens, asks questions. Often he has to pick up one of the handsets, gesturing to the man before him to do the same, and they speak through an interpreter. Giles says he will do what he can, he will do his best. Increasingly, he has to say that he is sorry, there is nothing he can do.

Its just sad, Giles said after one of these sessions. Very sad. On a human, compassionate level we can all see why he should be allowed to stay. But theres also whats legally possible, and the two are not the same.

Spending time with Giles makes it clear that the space for what is legally possible has been aggressively and deliberately narrowed through a series of decisions all but invisible to most British citizens.

When MPs voted, last October, to give the immigration bill 2015-16, currently going through parliament, a second reading, Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat spokesman, protested that there had already been seven immigration bills in the last eight years and 45,000 changes to the immigration rules since Theresa May became home secretary in 2010. Specialist lawyers such as Giles, who argue that even they can barely keep up, also point to the fact that in 2013, the coalition government cut the legal aid budget by between 350m and 450m per year. At the same time it limited availability of financial help for immigration cases only to persons seeking asylum, victims of domestic violence and those in immigration detention centres seeking bail. This means that anyone applying to remain in this country, on any basis apart from asylum or domestic violence be it length of residency, a job offer, investment, marriage or family must be able to afford a lawyer (and the rapidly increasing visa application fees) or navigate a near-impenetrable system unaided.

Since the Immigration Act 1971 came into force, any migrant caught without the correct papers has been subject to removal from the UK. However, to those for whom it is politically expedient to be seen to be tough on foreigners, this is apparently not enough. The 2015-16 bill, the first since the Tories achieved their majority, received its third reading in the House of Lords on 12 April. The bill is striking for the range and ingenuity of its criminalisation of those who fall foul of the ever-shifting rules: working illegally or hiring illegal workers; renting accommodation while illegal or renting accommodation to someone who might be illegal; driving or having a bank account while illegal all would carry the possibility of substantial fines or even prison sentences. The government would be given the power to seize the earnings of illegal workers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The bill would allow immigration officers to search homes and people and to seize payslips, timesheets and nationality documents. It would also allow police officers who stop vehicles to check immigration status, and proposes that employers who want to hire non-European migrants would have to pay an immigration skills charge to do so. More than one observer Doreen Lawrence among them has pointed out that some of the powers in the immigration bill, specifically right-to-rent and the right to ask motorists for immigration papers, are effectively permission to discriminate on the basis of colour.

In this already difficult arena, Giles specialises in defending some of the most difficult and unpopular cases of all: those subject to deportation, and foreign nationals imprisoned in British jails. And he is very good at it. Partly because he will take up cases others will not, and keeps fighting them even when repeatedly knocked back, a significant number of Giless cases have gone up to the highest courts in the country and entered the law books as having proved important points of principle, about rights of appeal, for instance, or who should, under the new dispensation, be allowed legal aid.

In a few months timeGiles will go to the supreme court with a case that tests one of the most sweeping measures in the new bill: deport first, appeal later, which allows the government to deport people even if they are in the middle of a legal appeal. It is currently applied only to prisoners in the criminal justice system who also happen to be foreign (they may well be legally here), and since July 2014, have automatically been deported at the end of their sentences. The new bill reiterates a Tory manifesto pledge, that deport first, appeal later should extend much further and apply to all migrants, except for refugees.

Because this proposal was in the Tory manifesto it is not subject to amendment in the Commons or the Lords. The only way to fight it is in the courts, which means that if Giless supreme court challenge is successful, the consequences would reach throughout the immigration system.


Giles is a partner at Turpin Miller,a legal aid firm in east Oxford. When we met at his office last summer, there was a heatwave and on the top floor it was hot overwhelmingly, enervatingly hot. Open windows and fans made little difference. Already scrappy pot plants struggled not to collapse altogether. Giles sat among files files on the floor, files in cardboard boxes, files in cabinets lining the walls. Its a fight with paper! he said. I actually did tidy up in your honour.

Most of the files were opened after he met detainees at Campsfield, or after calls directly to the office, or, quite often, after meeting prisoners at HMP Huntercombe, a prison that houses only foreign offenders. Giles often gets the feeling no one comes to see them other than the Home Office. On visit after visit he sees how bravado battles with vulnerability, extreme tension with politeness, self-harm with hours in the gym. A number of my clients have been or are on suicide watch. In my experience the numbers have increased, Giles said.

In the past, he used to explain human rights appeals to clients as a set of scales, with the offence on one side and everything else family and private life, length of residency, legal status, good behaviour weighed up on the other. But the scales just dont exist anymore. Now theres only one outcome: not just a decision to deport, but a pursuit of that to the bitter end.

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An aerial view of Campsfield House detention centre. Photograph: David Hartley/REX/Shutterstock

Sitting opposite Giles was Jo Renshaw, also a partner in the firm, and head of immigration. As they worked, periods of silent form-filling and email-writing were punctuated by ringing mobiles, quickfire questions: Does he live with his family?; How much do you have in your bank account?; Do they need the pregnancy scan?. Little remains private, once the Home Office gets involved.

As Giles and Renshaw busied themselves, a paralegal entered the room. Andrzej on the line hes under the impression he has a bail hearing on Friday. Andrzej is one of Giless clients, who spent 30 months in prison for attempted robbery and was then served with a deportation order. While he challenged the order, he was being held at Campsfield detention centre.

Andrzej had arrived from Poland lawfully, with his wife and two then three children and had worked here lawfully. After his arrest, the family was moved into shared emergency social services accommodation, where his daughter was abused by another resident. Giles was challenging the decision to deport on the basis that Andrzejs children were vulnerable and could not do without their fathers support, and his deportation had been deferred until the judicial review could be considered. But in order to be released from detention, Andrzej had to have a home address, at which point he ran into one of many kinks in the system.

The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) organises accommodation for asylum seekers and those applying for bail from an immigration detention centre, but because the pool is limited, Giles explained, it takes a very long time to process applications. For foreign nationals who have been to prison, it can take even longer. There is often little communication with the probation service, so when NASS does eventually suggest a possible address, it often ends up being rejected by probation because it is in a high crime area, or in a house occupied by other ex-offenders, or otherwise deemed unsuitable. And that scenario can repeat itself two, three, four times over months, if not years, during which time that person remains detained, said Giles.

Soon enough, Andrzej called directly. Giles tried to calm him, to explain that no, there was no bail hearing; yes, he had tried social services, intending to persuade them to support the argument against deportation, but they wouldnt respond. So what I would recommend is you send them a letter saying, I want to be with my wife and children, I want to know what I can do. I want to understand what is going on, please can you provide a response urgently. He spelled it out. U-R-G-E-N-T-L-Y.

Giles speaks to all his clients in the same way, focused and supportive, but without flummery, or much softening of blows. Both Giles and Renshaw were clear that it would be wrong to give false encouragement. These people are very vulnerable and marginalised, said Renshaw. They often have little idea of their rights. They are full of hope, a lot of the time, that everything can be worked out. Thats a lethal combination theyre ripe for people to tell them what they want to hear, and relieve them of a lot of money for doing it.

If Giles took a case on, he was very committed, Renshaw said. Very smart, very forceful. You have to be the Home Office is very combative. Most of us deal with them at arms length. But he has to talk to caseworkers, to people making decisions about detention and tagging it would grind down anyone whos not as tough as he is.

As would the unhappiness immigration lawyers encounter nearly every day. Mary Bosworth, a professor of criminology at Oxford University, spent 18 months studying centres such as Campsfield, where people are detained for anything from a few days to years, generally with no idea of how long it will be. In her harrowing book, Inside Immigration Detention, she described visiting the legal aid corridor where Giles sees his clients just before renovations in 2013-14. The stench of sweat, fear and anxiety was often overwhelming, wrote Bosworth. The accommodation blocks were standard prison wings, complete with suicide netting, metal doors, metal staircases, shower blocks with half-size doors enabling staff to see who is within. Staff warned Bosworth not to believe men who wept because their children had been put into care. She described levels of distress so difficult to witness that on a number of occasions I left the centre abruptly, having reached the limits of my capacity to soak up other peoples misery.

I asked Giles how he coped with the human misery he encounters daily. I think, over the years, said Giles, I have managed by not taking it on. Not engaging with the underlying facts, if you like. The things that have happened to somebody, or may happen to somebody. Ive tried to concentrate instead on what Im doing what my role is. Id much rather my client said, Tom has explained to me hes going to do this, that it has this chance of success, than, Hes a good guy and hes always got time to chat. You know?

Giles called another client. Peter arrived from Nigeria in the late 1980sand was given indefinite leave to remain that is, permission to settle in Britain. He had four children, all British citizens. Fourteen years ago, when they were small, he was arrested for attempting to import class-A drugs; he turned informant and served a criminal sentence. Had Peter been a British citizen, he would have been allowed to go free after having served his time. But, because he was foreign, he was then detained while it was decided whether he would be deported. This detention lasted a further three years. Giles challenged the legitimacy of these three years of incarceration. The courts found in Peters favour, and moreover ruled two years of the detention to be unlawful. He was awarded damages. (Between 2011 and 2014, the Home Office paid out 15m in compensation for unlawful detention.)

The Home Office was not able to deport Peter. But it responded by giving him only six months leave to remain. He was technically allowed to work, but in practice this was near-impossible. Ever since, he has had to reapply to stay every six months, at the cost of a 649 fee to the Home Office and a payment to Turpin Miller each time.

Last month, the fees rose by 25%, to 811 per person. For most visa applicants, this is now added to the new NHS surcharge of 200 for each adult and child, per year. Application for a standard two-and-a-half years leave to remain for a family of four now costs 5,244. Those who cannot find the money must leave the country when their current visa expires, unless they can claim they are destitute the bar for proving which is extremely high.Fees are also waived for victims of domestic abuse but only if the spouse is British. Often, Renshaw said, clients who had scrimped and saved their fees in the full trust that they were doing what the system required of them did not find out about rate rises until the last minute, meaning that they either had to leave the country immediately or become overstayers, and thus illegal. She is increasingly defending people who have effectively been administrated into illegality. (A Home office spokesperson, approached for comment, stated that It is only right we recover the costs of running our immigration system by making sure that those who benefit directly from it contribute appropriately – so the expense to the UK taxpayer is less.)

With no steady work, Peter was in such arrears that his credit card had been stopped and his bank account closed. Giles was applying for legal aid so that Peter could pay Turpin Miller to appeal on his behalf to remain in Britain for three clear years at least; the legal aid agency wanted proof of income, but having no bank account, Peter was finding it difficult to satisfy them. The upshot is a form of terrorism, said Giles. Were not just going to set up a system that makes it difficult for you to obtain the right to be here, were going to carry that message through every part of your life, remind you of it every day.

Some weeks later Giles received an email from Peter, saying that he wouldnt be able to send over his financial documents as requested, because he had destroyed them. I strongly believe that the legal aid office works with the immigration department and I have come to the conclusion that any document submitted to them would be used as evidence against me in a charge of illegal employment. At home I do not open my door or blind as I worry that the authorities are watching and are coming for me. Please do not be offended that I am unable to provide the documents. Thank you sir.


Giles, who is now 40, grew upin Stoke Newington, north London. His parents split up when he was small, and he and his brother were raised by his mother, who for 14 years was principal of Tower Hamlets College, and her new partner. It was a politically engaged household. They argued about issues at mealtimes and he was taken on marches against Thatcher and the nuclear bomb. There was a strong feeling, he says, not too dissimilar to now, of a need to stand up against prejudice and discrimination.

He thought about becoming a teacher before taking a conversion course and going into legal aid. Its a cliche, isnt it growing up in a lesbian household in the 80s, in Stoke Newington what are you going to do? Join Ukip and end up an estate agent? As a shy child who nevertheless would not give a point up, he could not imagine undertaking the public performances required of a barrister, and so trained as a solicitor. He came to Oxford because his wife had got a job at the council, and he admits he stalked Philip Turpin, one of the firms partners, until he was hired.

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Home Office policy is to deport foreign nationals convicted of a crime whether they are in the UK legally or not. Photograph: Alamy

Turpin Miller is effective and well-respected, and in 2012, at the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year awards, it was named firm of the year. But less than a year later, legal aid was cut and the company lost about 70% of its legal aid work in immigration alone. In order to survive and to fund flexible rates for clients who had previously qualified for aid the firm switched to more private work, where the client, rather than the government, pays for representation.

Clients come to Turpin Miller through social services, childrens societies, womens refuges or, for Giles, through detention centres and prisons. Though they have done as well as they can under the circumstances Renshaw recently won legal aid lawyer of the year in the social and welfare category the partners are acutely aware of how precarious their working lives, and by extension the lives of their clients, have become.

Last summer, in his first speech as secretary of state for justice, Michael Gove suggested pro bono work should begin to replace legal aid, asking solicitors and barristers to look into their consciences and see what they can do to ensure there is more equitable access to justice, and effectively suggesting that individual charity compensate for shortfalls in state funding. Giles was withering about this, pointing out that legal firms rich enough to have pro bono units tend not to deal with asylum and immigration. Immigration is highly complicated work and any solicitor who does not specialise in it would probably be breaching professional rules to be undertaking it pro bono, says Richard Miller, head of legal aid at the Law Society. One of the rules is that no solicitor must do any work for with theyre not competent.Were struggling to survive, said Giles. Every time we do a piece of work that doesnt pay it is no exaggeration to say were jeopardising our future.

When it cut legal aid, the government promised a safety net for those in danger of a breach of their human rights in the form of exceptional case funding. You can apply directly [to the Legal Aid Agency], it says, helpfully, on gov.uk. You dont have to name a solicitor. The trouble is that the forms are 14 pages long, and include questions like: Please describe why you consider there is an arguable breach of substantive obligation. It can take an experienced lawyer up to six hours to do one application; if it is unsuccessful they do not get paid. It is possible to send a letter explaining why you cannot represent yourself, but to construct a strong argument, it would probably help to have a passing knowledge of case law.

In May 2013 Giles applied for exceptional case funding to represent a Lithuanian woman, Teresa Gudanaviciene. She was working lawfully in the UK when she wounded her violent, alcoholic partner with a knife, and received an 18-month prison sentence. Her younger child was taken into care (the older one was an adult), and she was informed that at the end of her sentence she would be deported. Giles believed she could appeal against the decision on human rights grounds. He duly applied for exceptional case funding, and was rejected. He challenged the decision and eventually, in 2014, along with five other linked cases, the case reached the court of appeal, which found that the bar for legal aid provision was set unlawfully high. Gudanaviciene was given legal aid and her appeal against deportation was successful.

That was really important, said Renshaw. In 2013-14, before Gudanavicienes victory, 1,520 applications for exceptional case funding were made, 69% of which were for family or immigration cases: 69 or 4.5% were granted, of which only one or two were immigration cases. However, in the first quarter of 2015, following Gudanavicienes victory, 132 applications were made for exceptional funding for immigration cases, and 51 were granted. And this is the thing about Tom, Renshaw told me. A lot of us took one look at the forms and thought, I dont have time to do that for nothing! But Tom battled away applying, reapplying and in the end taking them to court. Thats what he does; if he sees an issue that needs to be dealt with he will keep going.

It is an obvious point, but worth repeating: legal aid is necessary because it aims to give everyone equal access to justice. Legal aid ensured that for a relatively low cost the whole system worked, said Renshaw, and that is particularly true in Toms work. But, she argues, ifyou get rid of the ability to put a case at all, because a client cannot pay to fight it, you skew the system. And if you then remove people from the UK before they can appeal a Home Office decision well, the whole point of an appeal is to call people to account. The first decision isnt always right. And what happens when you undermine that right of appeal either by removing legal aid or by requiring people to conduct their appeal from overseas is that the quality of the first decision deteriorates, because theres no scrutiny.

The other issue illustrated by the Gudanaviciene case was the lengths to which the government would go to prove a point. If legal aid had been provided, and a barrister hired for her initial appeal, the whole thing would have cost 691. But because the government refused her legal aid, and kept refusing even though the challenge moved through to the high court and then the court of appeal, the case eventually involved 18 barristers, at a cost in excess of 600,000, not to mention an extra six months of detention for Gudanaviciene (at a cost, according to figures entered into parliamentary debate in late 2014, of 97 per day) and maintaining a child in care (between 131,000 and 135,000 per child per year, according to the National Audit Office).

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Tom Giles, in the offices of the Oxford legal firm Turpin Miller. Photograph: Felix Clay for the Guardian

At the hearing, the presenting officer said they were ready to concede, said Giles, but they could not get permission to concede, because, I suspect, the Home Office does not concede deportation cases. It is the Home Office that is dragging these things through the courts, with the costs to the public purse and [the emotional] cost to everyone. Discretion and common sense seem to have been taken out of the system.

Giless suspicions were bolstered in mid-November, when the president of the upper tribunal, which considers appeals relating to asylum and immigration, published a decision saying that he had the impression that the secretary of state [for the Home Office], as a matter of routine, applies for permission to appeal in every deportation appeal [resolved in favour of the appellant]. Furthermore, he noted, the terms in which these Home Office applications were made were frequently generic, rather than engaging with the facts of the individual case and with the law, and that they were inundating tribunals and threatening to impede legitimate work. If there is indeed a practice of this kind it must be disapproved, he wrote. To slavishly apply for permission to appeal to the upper tribunal in every deportation appeal resolved in favour of the appellant, if this be the practice, is not a proper or legitimate invocation of this tribunals jurisdiction. (In response, a Home Office spokesperson told me that any decision to appeal a judgment made by the courts is taken after careful consideration of the facts and when it is in the public interest to do so.)


When, during prime Ministers Questions in January, David Cameron referred to a bunch of migrants, or when he pledged, last summer, to halt the swarm attempting to make the crossing from Calais, his language was nothing new. Britain has been worrying about outsiders for a long time, while in fact, as Robert Winder has argued in his magisterial book Bloody Foreigners, rather impressively muddling along and largely accepting them.

But in the last couple of decades, it has become, for non-EU migrants, harder and harder to arrive and, having arrived, to stay. The world has changed, radically: cheaper international travel, digital communications, international terrorism and refugees fleeing wars have presented challenges previous governments have not had to face, or at least not on such a scale. Yet this does not excuse tactics that have paved the way for increasingly harsh policies.

Britain has expended considerable effort over the past decade in marking out (some) foreign nationals as dangerous, unwelcome, and excludable, writes Mary Bosworth. Eliding different categories of foreigner, starting with the bogus asylum seeker, before moving to the terrorist and the foreign offender, various British governments have pitted these rhetorical figures against the British citizen, shoring up a narrative of national identity in a period of mass mobility.

This process has accelerated in recent years, and it is increasingly possible, especially since the Tories achieved their majority, to detect what looks like a three-step process. Step 1: talk as tough as possible about migrants. Step 2: write legislation that is tough on migrants. Step 3: when it is challenged, claim that it is simply what the public wants. And in the meantime use every possible administrative and judicial muscle to remove migrants from the UK.

By the time Theresa May addressed the Conservative party conference last October, she felt comfortable claiming that the asylum system was so open to abuse that it was just another way of getting here to work which meant it was impossible to build a cohesive society wages are forced down even further while some people are forced out of work altogether.

In making this claim, May was undeterred by the fact that her own departments research has found no statistically significant displacement of UK natives from the labour market in periods when the economy is strong.


One morning in late September,the main hall of the Royal Courts of Justice in London echoed with the crash of security belts as bags were searched at the entrance. At the centre, gazed down upon by portraits of men in ermine and wigs, were the cause lists, detailing the cases to be heard that day. Nearby was a stand on which was pasted a copy of the Magna Carta. It looked like a colour photocopy someone had taken in a rush, and completed a very English impression of beauty, vaulting power, and lashings of amateurishness.

In Court 68, appeals were being heard from lawyers for two offenders, Courtney Byndloss, a Jamaican national, and Kevin Kiarie, a Kenyan. Both were challenging decisions to deport them before they could appeal from within the UK. Kiarie, whose parents have indefinite leave to remain, and who has lived in England for 19 of his 23 years, was Giless client. Everyone in the small windowless court was aware of the importance of this case: if the two men were successful, the governments policy of deport first, appeal later would be dealt a major blow, and many thousands of migrants, both offenders and the far greater number of non-offenders, would benefit.

The court of appeal is different to what courtroom dramas on TV lead one to expect. There is almost no concession to lay observers, theoretically welcome though they might be. Everyone is already familiar with the bare bones of the case, so bewigged barristers plunge directly into the finer points of case law. Behind them junior counsel, also in wigs, flap through thick folders, looking for page references and omissions. Behind the junior counsel sit a row of solicitors who, that morning, included Giles, whose bright blue shirt stood out against all the black suits and gowns. And at the front of the room sit the judges, who do not wear wigs. Far from being impassive adjudicators, the judges get stuck in, running proceedings in a tough and not always polite manner.

Richard Drabble QC, who has a slight stoop, a lovely smile and a tendency to mumble, argued for Kiarie: how could he appeal against deportation while in Kenya a country he did not know without access to British lawyers, witnesses, or supporting material such as probation records, or medical records? A mention of psychiatric papers caused a flurry of scorn from Lord Justices Richards, McCombe, who made full use of impressive salt-and-pepper eyebrows, and Elias, sceptical, old and tiny, almost Dickensian in his high-backed chair. Manjit Gill QCs argument about the rights of Byndlosss children produced a splutter of impatience from Richards: If you have a speaking note, lets get on with it!

The atmosphere changed abruptly when Richard Keen, Baron Keen of Elie, former chair of the Scottish Conservative party, stood to speak. Keen, who is the advocate general for Scotland, had intervened at the last minute to argue for the home secretary. What is being reviewed? began Keen, who is a big man, sleek with confidence. A decision of the secretary of state. He took immediate and direct aim at the characters of Kiarie and his co-defendant, using the phrase foreign national criminal as often as possible. Both have shown a disregard for the law of the UK, and therefore there is a public interest in removing them from the UK, and therefore policy reflects that public interest and if that means removing them pending their appeal then so be it. That is the view of parliament.

There was more of the same the next day when Keen, wearing a pink and white checked shirt under his QCs silks, pointed out that some immigration appeals do already occur out of country, and if necessary an appellant can always be brought back to defend him or herself. (Although, as Baroness Helena Kennedy QC has pointed out during debates about the immigration bill, only 13% of out-of-country appeals succeed, compared to an average of around four in 10 made in country.) Keen moved the appeals be refused.

In response, Drabble, whose mumble had completely disappeared, took direct aim at the likelihood of anyone ever being brought back, and at the general breakdown of due process. You cant proceed on the basis that the tribunal will somehow muddle through. Thats not an acceptable way to run a procedurally fair system. Furthermore, It is a major mistake of principle to allow the gravity of what is alleged against my client to diminish procedural protection. That cannot be the right approach.

Three weeks later, unusually swiftly where these things are concerned, Richards, McCombe and Elias found against Kiarie and Byndloss, arguing that it was perfectly possible to continue their appeals from abroad.

Renshaw thinks that judges are increasingly being forced into a corner by a home secretary intent on incorporating a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants (Mays own words) into legislation, meaning, as Renshaw put it, that the judiciary in some ways have little choice they are simply implementing the law.

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Graffiti at Campsfield House. In early March, Giless client Andrzej won his appeal against deportation, but he had already been removed. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

There has been some pushback from the House of Lords. In their debates, manylords made clear their discomfort with the speed at which a constantly changing bill was being pushed through the government alone has made more than 300 amendments, on top of amendments proposed and voted on by lords and MPs. They also criticised what they saw as unnecessary hardships being visited on migrants. They voted, among other things, to allow asylum seekers to work if their claims had not been processed within six months currently asylum seekers live on 5 a day, and when they can finally work, the jobs they are allowed to do are severely restricted and to require a court order to detain anyone for more than 28 days.


In early March, Giless client Andrzej won his appeal against deportation, but he had already been removed a situation that will arise more and more when the deport first, appeal later measure in the immigration bill comes into general effect.

Peter, meanwhile, was granted legal aid but the court of appeal refused his request for an extension of his visa. Its a bad ending, said Giles, then corrected himself. Its definitely not an ending. We need to start again and challenge it again. I hope he can be strong enough to go through it all again.

It is not an ending for Kiarie either, at least not yet: as soon as the court of appeal decision came through last autumn Giles applied for legal aid so that he could take the case further. This was granted, and the appeal should come before the supreme court at some point later this year.

Even Teresa Gudanaviciene had been forced to go another round with the Home Office. Having been given exceptional case funding, she and Giles fought the decision to deport her, and won their case in the first-tier tribunal. The Home Office refused to accept this decision and challenged it in the upper tribunal which decided that there had in fact been no error of law and that she could stay. I spoke to her yesterday, said Giles, when he told me about it. What did she say? She just said, I dont know what to say. Thank you.

Some names have been changed

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This article was amended on April 14 to correct a factual error. Henley is Boris Johnsons former constituency.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/14/the-lawyer-who-takes-the-cases-no-one-wants