He's didn't want to come anyway.
Lawyers attacked by Boris Johnson for representing asylum seekers have been offered a free meal at a top London restaurant, as they deal with far-right hatred and even death threats.
Under the government's new scheme, applications for some asylum seekers can be processed in Rwanda, where, if approved, the migrants can stay with up to five years' access to education and support.
Lawyers working to prevent their clients getting deported to Rwanda have been accused by the prime minister of "abetting the work of criminal gangs".
"They are, I’m afraid, undermining everything that we’re trying to do to support safe and legal routes for people to come to the UK and to oppose the illegal and dangerous routes", Johnson told a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
The Bar Council and the The Law Society issued a joint statement condemning Johnson's anti-lawyer rhetoric and called on the prime minister "to stop attacks on legal professionals who are simply doing their jobs".
"It is misleading and dangerous for the prime minister to suggest lawyers who bring such legal challenges are doing anything other than their job and upholding the law. Anyone at risk of a life-changing order has a right to challenge its legality with the assistance of a lawyer, who has a duty to advise their client on their rights", they said.
Lawyers representing some of the migrants told RollOnFriday they had received "far right attention" including death threats. "I’ve never experienced anything like it", said one solicitor. "I’ve been receiving death threats, threats like, 'Wait till we get you'. It’s a new experience for me, I never thought I’d face this. At least they don't know where I live - just my firm's office".
In a show of support for the besieged lawyers, Imad's Syrian Kitchen announced on Twitter, "To every 'activist lawyer' who worked tirelessly to stop yesterday's flight from taking off to Rwanda, you and a plus one are invited to a free dinner at our restaurant". The Soho establishment's chef, Imad Alarnab, was himself a refugee who arrived in London in 2015 after fleeing Syria.
Qays Sediqi of BHD Solicitors, which represents two of the migrants who were due to be flown from to Rwanda this week, told RollOnFriday, "Imad’s offer is just lovely and it gives us a boost to know that there are people supporting us. Everyone has a right to legal advice – that’s the beauty of the British legal system".
Toufique Hossain, the Director of Public Law at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, said, "We know first hand how delicious the food is there and how personal this all is for Imad, given what he himself has gone through. It's a lovely gesture but we warn him, some members of the legal team eat a lot!"
In fact, lawyers have already begun turning up on Alarnab's doorstep. "Our team of dedicated lawyers were working most of the weekend and late into Tuesday night", said Matthew Davies, Managing Partner of Wilson Solicitors. "We were in court just before 10pm trying to get an injunction and the European Court of Human Rights issued one at 9.58pm – two minutes before the deadline set by the Home Office. So we had no time to eat and our team is now very hungry".
Although favourable, their review suggests the Kitchen's marketing team got ahead of its serving staff:
"Despite it being a Wednesday night, Imad’s spacious restaurant was packed to the rafters... Imad himself wasn’t there, and his staff seemed somewhat nonplussed by the suggestion that some lawyers were there to claim their free meal. Counsel was unavailable to make oral representations but some solicitor advocacy and a bundle of documentary evidence managed to seal the deal, albeit it was an hour before the table was available. The food was worth every minute of the wait. Taking up the waiting staff’s suggestion of a selection of substantial 'starters' and a couple of main dishes, the meal was truly excellent, enjoyed in a buzzing, friendly atmosphere."
Davies said gestures like Alarnab's "make the work worthwhile, especially given the hostile environment we work in and the low legal aid rates that we get paid. Most importantly our clients did not get removed and will not now be removed until the courts have ruled on the lawfulness of the policy".
Johnson did not respond to a request for comment, or the suggestion that he match Alarnab's offer and host the lawyers for dinner at Downing Street.
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