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Activist Lawyer, featuring Colin Yeo launches

The latest podcast episode of Activist Lawyer features Colin Yeo, barrister at Garden Court Chambers in London, who specialises in immigration and asylum law. Colin founded and runs the Free Movement immigration law blog and he’s the author of Welcome to Britain: Fixing Our Broken Immigration System, which came out as an updated paperback on 17 March.

Colin’s interview on Activist Lawyer is available to download now across all major streaming platforms or via We caught up with Colin to talk about what activism means to him.

How important is activism?

It is very important! Nothing changes without dedicated people pushing hard for it.

Can we use the law effectively as a tool for activism?

The law can be a tool for activism, but I increasingly think it should be used cautiously. It is easy for politicians to change the law after a legal victory unless there has been a powerful campaign to win hearts and minds as well. A lot of strategic litigation intended to benefit the client group rather than just the individual client ends in failure, which can cement problems. Sometimes I fear that the individual client whose case was elevated into a test case has in the process surrendered what can be a key argument in an immigration context, which is their exceptionality. Test cases almost inevitably by their nature raise concerns about floodgates in the minds of many judges.

Tell us about a career milestone / case that will stay with you forever

The cases that stay with me most are the asylum cases I have lost.

Does your current practice specialise in campaigning / representing clients in a specific area, and if so, how did you get involved in this area?

I have gradually moved from doing mainly individual case work to campaigning and educational work. My career started out working with a couple of charities, and then I moved to private practice at the bar. I set up Free Movement anonymously in 2007 and used that as a tool to push for system changes and to help other lawyers stay up to date in order to represent their clients as well as possible. My particular personal interests are asylum and family migration.

What is the most important change to the law that you feel needs to be addressed now?

I increasingly feel that British citizenship law and policy needs major root and branch reform. This isn’t necessarily the most obvious, immediate and pressing problem but I think it underpins a lot of other problems in the immigration system.

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