While thumbing through previous copies of the Gazette I found an article from 4 June 2009 which stated that a defendant had escaped confiscation proceedings because she was unable to find an advocate who was willing to represent her under the legal aid rate. This article emphasised the importance of access to justice and how everyone is entitled to representation.
However, I am dismayed that this principle is not applied in all areas of law. I am training in the immigration field and have noticed on a few occasions that the Home Office representative has not been present at hearings.
The Home Office and UK Border Agency represent the interests of British citizens in relation to immigration matters, in and out of the court. Their work begins at our borders and continues in the courts. Therefore, is it not wholly unacceptable when a hearing occurs with no presenting officer? I can only compare it to a criminal trial occurring without the prosecution.
In times when voters are increasingly turning to right-wing parties, as they feel that the main parties are disappointing them in relation to immigration control and policy, surely the representatives must take some responsibility and act as a final defence to the protection of this country's interests?
Judy Solomon, Bromley