Lunch Club Gain Real Insight on Immigration

Immigration is a hot topic – not just because of Brexit but also because of regular stories in the news which have highlighted horrendous cases of asylum seekers and refugees.

The Ladies Luncheon Club (LLC) at Phyllis Court Club welcomed James Hanratty who was an Immigration Judge for 16 years to speak at their January lunch meeting last week.

During his career, James has worked in many of the UK’s most prestigious legal institutions including the House of Lords and The Royal Courts of Justice (which he ran as Chief Executive). He was also the Legal Adviser to the British Government in Hong Kong on the handover of Hong Kong to China. He was also elected President of the Council of Immigration Judges for the UK.

After retiring two years ago James wrote a book, The Making of an Immigration Judge which is not just a biography but an enlightening book which gives accounts of James’ time on the Bench. The book highlights James’ passion that the role of an Immigration Judge is to apply the law so that everyone has a fair and accurate hearing  with compassionate and firmness but also alive to the rackets and deceit of some appellants.

Although the book covers serious issues, it also contains entertaining anecdotes and examples including deceit James experienced with a Somali woman who said she had to flee as her husband had been murdered in Mogadishu, when actually they had lived in Kenya and that he had come to the UK separately and deceitfully to claim asylum.

James said, “I’m most proud of a case of a 12 year old girl from Guinea who was going to be sent back and would in my opinion have been subject to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The Home Office original case was adjourned as they thought the girl had already been subject to this and medical evidence was called for.  It was the first time that a judge awarded refugee status on the grounds of membership of a social group under the Refugees Convention because if she was sent back she would be persecuted on arrival.  After this case another case which went to the High Court appeal my case was referenced and saved another girl from this horrendous act.”

Chair of LLC Lynn Wilkinson (pictured below with James) said, “Delighted to have James here today to understand how immigration really works.  We hear a lot about in the news but mostly about the problems.  I had a friend who was Malaysian and married to an English man and when she went back home to look after her mother she lost all her rights.”

After James spoke, he welcomed and answered questions which included the position of Afghan interpreters which he felt their courage should be recognised and sanctuary given.  He expressed his sadness that so many Christians around the world were being persecuted such as the Copts in Egypt and in Pakistan and even India. He was asked about human rights in practice and the effect of Brexit on immigration, finance and skills.

The Ladies Luncheon Club is just one of over 30 special interest groups at the private members club which meets monthly with talks on history, current affairs, travel and food plus floristry demonstrations, fashion shows and films.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a member contact Jez Scholfield, Membership Development Manager, on or call 01491 570510.



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