Home Office accused of interference with the judiciary after querying bail grants

Immigration experts have accused the Home Office of interfering with the independence of the judiciary after it queried the number of detainees being released during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent to the president of the First-Tier Tribunal, Immigration and Asylum Chamber last week, a senior official said the Home Office “is somewhat surprised at the level of grants of bail in recent weeks”.

He added: “Where bail is granted, I would also ask you to consider whether immigration judges could provide written reasons for this.

“Whilst I realise this is not a requirement under the Procedure Rules, it would assist the Home Office to fully understand the reasons why bail has been granted, not least to improve our own decision making in the future.”

The letter was copied to the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA) and the Law Society of England and Wales.

In response to the letter, Judge Michael Clements firmly stated: “As independent judiciary we decide bail applications in accordance with the law, which includes the guidance which has been issued. There has been no change in either the law or the guidance.”

Adrian Berry, chair of the ILPA, told Free Movement that the Home Office letter was “not appropriate”, and The Secret Barrister sharply rebuked the Home Office in a Twitter thread after being accused of presenting a “completely untrue” account of the exchange.

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