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Do you see what he did there?


John Reid, as reported in the Guardian, decrees an ID card based crackdown on access to public services by illegal immigrants, as there is:

“an underlying reality that we have not been tough enough in policing access to such services as council housing, legal aid or NHS care”.


The heart of the effort will be “a one stop shop” to which both private sector and public services officials can go to check if someone is a legal migrant.

Now, assuming that what Mr Reid says is in any way valid, presumably we will now have to call the ‘one stop shop’ before signing legal aid forms for any client who can’t produce a UK passport. But what if it’s a fake? Do we all get biometric readers, Mr Reid? And can we charge for a half hour or so on hold?

But then I wasn’t aware that access to justice, for let us say a criminal defence, was immigration status based.

In some ways Mr Reid has succeeded in reversing the usual presumption of innocence. Unfortunately, it is only in regard to the presumed cynical aim of his own statements.

[Edit 9/07/2007. For an interesting and informed view on Dr Reid’s rhetoric, see this post on Free Movement. And, yes I was deliberately calling him Mr Reid. ‘Dr’ is an honorific.]

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


  1. Fergus O'Rourke

    I don’t think that you’re right about the “honorific”. Who could possibly have honoured the fella ?

    Seriously, I seem to recall reading that he has a Ph.D in Gambian anthropology or similar.

  2. contact

    ‘Doctor’ is an honorific I think, even when designating a PhD.

    Can you imagine being his supervisor?


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