Who? Sue Willman, human rights and public law partner at Deighton Pierce Glynn.
Why is she in the news? Represented Isa Muazu, a Nigerian man on hunger strike who failed in his High Court bid to be released from an immigration detention centre on human rights grounds after being denied asylum. He stopped eating on 25 August on the grounds that he had been refused a special diet for his kidney problems, and in protest at his treatment. After an appeal was lodged in the Court of Appeal, the Home Office has indicated it is planning to remove him next week.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The Home Office’s policy of detaining migrants indefinitely to compel them to leave the UK causes immense suffering, and is expensive and ineffective. In the past few months, detainees’ frustration at their treatment, and in some cases mental illness, have led to hunger strikes as a last resort. In previous cases, I was able to quickly secure release, but the home secretary has fought this case bitterly – with seven court hearings in as many weeks.’
Dealing with the media: ‘Current hostility towards migrants makes it risky to publicise important cases. The press were a last option when the judicial process had failed to offer my client protection from possible death. But my client has felt greatly supported by the NGOs and the honest reporting of his case so far.’
Why did you become a lawyer? ‘To change the world. Revolution didn’t seem imminent.’
Career high: ‘Every time a collaboration with NGOs, other lawyers, and my long-suffering colleagues results in a change in the law or policy so migrants get a fairer deal.’
Career low: ‘Receiving Tuesday’s Administrative Court judgment. It unnecessarily restricts the rights of any detainee with a medical condition, and felt like a death sentence for my client.’