Britain’s most senior immigration judge has slammed barristers who have blocked members of a Muslim rape gang being stripped of British citizenship, accusing them of playing the system as they earn substantial fees at the taxpayer’s expense.
The lawyers have been treating the immigration tribunal with “sustained and marked disrespect” and there have been “multiple recent examples of similar conduct and misconduct”, Mr. Justice Bernard McCloskey said, according to The Telegraph.
The Rochdale gang was convicted in 2012 of preying on girls as young as 13 in the town, plying them with drink and drugs before they were “passed around” for sex.
They are appealing against a decision made by then Home Secretary Theresa May to strip them of British citizenship as the first step towards deporting them.
The case, which is being funded by legal aid, raises fears that dangerous criminals and their lawyers are time-wasting and obstructing the courts in an attempt to delay deportation from the UK for as long as possible.
Gang ringleader Shabir Ahmed, 63, has already lost an appeal against his possible deportation in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), during which he claimed his convictions were a conspiracy by police and members of the jury to “scapegoat” Muslims.
Mr. Ahmed, who has been married three times and has five children, is being represented by barrister Rajiv Sharma.
Three other men convicted of child sex offences in the same case, Abdul Aziz, Adil Khan and Qari Abdul Rauf, are represented by Leicester-based immigration and human rights barrister Zainul Jafferji, and Burton & Burton Solicitors, a Nottingham firm headed by senior partner Mohammed Mahruf.
All of the men making the appeal are originally from Pakistan. They hold dual citizenship, and will not be left stateless if they are stripped of British citizenship.
In a damning ruling, Justice McCloskey said the men’s barristers and solicitors had failed to submit the necessary papers to the court and had repeatedly asked for adjournments.
Tim Loughton MP, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which has investigated delays in deportation cases, accused immigration lawyers of “playing the system”, with some cases being spun out over months and even years.
“We are seeing lawyers going through all sort of procedural measures to delay and delay on their client’s behalf,” he said.
“In some cases the Home Office simply gives up and let these people go rather than incur any further expense in detaining them pending deportation.”