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David Vascott

News, Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Taskforce to build prosecution cases against rogue immigration lawyers

Taskforce to build prosecution cases against rogue immigration lawyers


The government says the Professional Enablers Taskforce is bringing together regulatory bodies, law enforcement teams and government departments to increase enforcement action against lawyers who help migrants exploit the immigration system.

In an 8 August press release, the Home Office and Ministry of Justice said:

The taskforce has been up and carrying out preliminary work over the past few months, working with partners to tackle immigration abuse in the legal sector by improving how intelligence and information is shared by regulators. Today marks its official launch.

Law enforcement are also working to bring fresh prosecutions against corrupt immigration lawyers who could face up to life in prison for assisting illegal migrants to remain in the country by deception.

Today the Home Secretary is chairing a roundtable meeting with the Lord Chancellor, Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner to reiterate the government’s drive to bring prosecutions against crooked immigration lawyers.

The taskforce has also developed a new training package for frontline staff who work in the immigration system to help them identify and report suspect activity so they can support law enforcement to prosecute crooked immigration lawyers.

Working with industry bodies, the taskforce will disrupt the business models of firms that are enabling abuse of the immigration system. Their work is aimed at supporting enforcement action against corrupt lawyers by building stronger evidence and improving intelligence sharing, which is then passed on to industry bodies to investigate and bring to law enforcement for prosecution if necessary.

Referrals to law enforcement have also been made where criminal activity is suspected. For example, the taskforce has uncovered a case in which an immigration firm is linked to one of the most wanted human traffickers, which has now been referred to the police.

Last week, the Solicitors Regulation Authority – a legal industry watchdog – suspended three legal firms who were caught offering to submit fake asylum claims for migrants.

The Law Society of England and Wales also issued a press release commenting on the government's announcement. Deputy vice president Richard Atkinson said: “This ‘taskforce’ has been around for months now, so it is not clear what, if anything, the government is announcing today. The government and regulators should share intelligence about immigration advisers of all kinds if they have concerns. And, of course, action should be taken immediately if there is evidence of wrong-doing.

“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.

“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.”