Lawyer course

Suella Braverman orders investigation into government work by lawyer who blocked flight to Rwanda

A lawyer-owned company that helped block the government’s deportation flight in Rwanda has received taxpayers’ money to train immigration advisers, The Telegraph can reveal.

More than £100,000 has been awarded to HJT Training – a company run by two chambers lawyers who grounded a flight to the African country in June.

A Home Office source said Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, had asked officials to undertake an ‘urgent review’ of the contract, amid claims by Tory MPs that the quango tasked with overseeing immigration advice could have been hijacked by activism.

Both HJT Training and the quango – the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) – have denied a conflict of interest and are not accused of any wrongdoing.

The OISC is an independent body from the Home Office responsible for regulating those who provide immigration advice and services across the UK. In December 2020, the Home Office awarded a contract worth £116,000 to HJT Training to provide the ‘skills assessment and moderation process’ to immigration advisers on behalf of the body.

Two of HJT Training’s four directors – Mark Symes and David Jones – are barristers at Garden Court Chambers.

On June 14, chambers won injunctions in an emergency hearing at the Court of Appeals that stopped a plane from ferrying asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Mr Symes, who is listed on Companies House as having ‘significant control’ in HJT Training, was a member of the team.

Mr. Jones did not act in the case. Garden Court Chambers said the asylum seekers they all represented “had a strong case for asylum in the UK” and their stories demonstrated “the inhumanity of Rwandan politics”.

The OISC said it was “satisfied” that the company’s services “meet the required standards”.

A spokesperson for HJT Training said, “OISC found no conflict of interest with our work.”