Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ship Shape

Aiden has a job. In fact he has two.

He has a British wife, and British children. Born in a former colony, he came to this land with a valid visa and settled. He pays his tax and national insurance.

He is resident in these green lands of Albion on a spouse visa, which enables him to lawfully work. In the fullness of time he is entitled to apply for leave to remain and settle, and this he does.

What could be fairer? Aiden has played by the rules. Yet one day he is suspended from his job, because his employers think that his papers are not in order.

The trade union warns that a profound unfairness is in train. His employers are blind to his explanations, for they are frightened of the new rules that say that, if your working papers are not all ship shape, they could be fined and prosecuted.

Aiden's papers are all ship shape, as it happens. He put in his application for permission to remain in time, it's all documented. The rules say that if you apply before your visa expires, you will continue with that same status until the Secretary of State makes a decison- even if this is after the date of your previous visa. The reason for this rule is obvious- the government takes a long time in making its decisions, and almost all the people who played by the rules and put in their application in time would otherwise become overstayers .

His trade union refers Aiden to us, and we explain the rules to the employer. It's a bit sad then that his employers move to dismiss him .

Their problem is that when they check with the government enquiry line the application has not been logged into the government's database.

It's even sadder that after Aiden's MP intervenes and asks the UK Border Agency to confirm that they have received Aiden's papers, they send a letter acknowledging receipt, telling him that his papers are all in order, and refering his employers to a database designed to confirm to employers that they are not breaking the rules.

It's even sadder that when his empoyer enquires twice of the government hotline , Aiden's details still haven't been entered. Sack the varlets!

Finally at the eleventh hour the database is updated, and Aiden can go back to work. I can't imagine how he might be feeling about his employers, or about our government.

On this occasion lawyers, trade unions and an MP saved Adie's job in the nick of time.

Last week the Legal Services Commission announced 40% cuts in Legal Aid cases they will fund in Hackney from next April. Tomorrow then, a father of two may be sacked, because although he is lawfully present in the UK, Legal Aid is being deliberately cut to the bone, to ensure that it is not possible to find the facts and tell the truth.

A story about a father of British children, playing by the rules for his family, will not be told with the voice of law, because of Legal Aid cuts.

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