Soon to be the late, but definitely not lamented!
My heart lifted yesterday when I heard the news that the “arms length” UK Border Agency (UKBA) is to be scrapped and replaced by two new organisations under the direct control of the Home Office. (‘UK Border Agency not good enough and being scrapped’; BBC News; 26 March 2013)
Meanwhile former UKBA Chief Executive Lin Homer, currently head of HMRC, is being roundly criticised and hauled over the coals by MPs and others for her “catastrophic failure of leadership” at the “chaotic Border Agency” (‘How did this woman get put in charge of our taxes? MPs attack ‘catastrophic failure of leadership’ by former boss of chaotic Border Agency who was PROMOTED to lead revenue and customs.’; Mail Online; 25 March 2013)
Anyone who has had any dealings with the asylum system over the last few years will be aware just how “not fit for purpose” UKBA was.
This change presents us with a golden opportunity to sweep away the culture of suspicion and disbelief that has greeted the majority of people seeking to exercise their legitimate right to claim asylum in the UK over the last few years.
It remains to be seen whether our government will grasp this opportunity, but the Home Secretary’s promise of a “high-volume service that makes high-quality decisions” certainly strikes the right note.
This promise is a fitting tribute to my good friend Roger Warren Evans, who has long campaigned for a timely fair hearing and high-quality legal representation for all asylum seekers.
Roger is currently in the process of winding down Asylum Justice , the charity he founded to provide free legal advice to asylum seekers without recourse to public funds across South Wales. That’s one organisation that will be missed by many.
Here’s wishing you a long, happy and well deserved retirement Roger.