Solicitor Cho's Blog

Solicitor-Advocate by day, Entrepreneur (co-Founder of Lawxero) by night and weekends. This blog contains 'everyday' law for all - Hurrah!

How to complaint against mistreatment at Heathrow (well, almost) [15 May 2015]

Quite possibly the most incendiary title of the year, I admit. Above picture is a serendipitous collection of books that I have found at my parents' house not so long ago which, without even trying, represents books which have largely shaped my life.

As a Korean migrant from the 90s, I was that kid in school with thick rimmed glasses, carrying a dictionary under her arm to every class, trying to master this language which has almost become my first language. Then there is the Youth Bible,admittedly, am not a fan of this particular version but one way or another, I am heavily influenced by my Christian upbringing, and whether related or not, I am, undeniably, a Christian. Just to the left of the Bible is Saint-Exupery's magical The Little Prince which strikes a chord with my child-like senses and wonderment about life. I quite like that about myself. Let's just have a laugh at that for a moment. The little book to the left of The Little Prince called 'Sorrow Into Joy' is, I think some Christian book about dealing with bereavement. This, unfortunately, marks the time when my family lost my younger brother who left us one day in his sleep at what was thought to be an invincible age of 21 ...

Besides this heart-to-heart style of today's blog, what I really wanted to focus on is the big yellow book in the middle, rather feistily entitled '120 letters that get results' (ISBN-10: 034058520X / ISBN-13: 978-0340585207). This a wonderful (?) collection of examples of letters one could write to raise a complaint was originally picked up by my dad who was, I suppose, rather rights conscious by nature. Mostly the letters were in consumer rights context of course. But, you could say, I've really honed my skills from a young age, thanks to expose-all publications like this :) 

In my current line of work in law, from listening to my clients, it seems that some of you may have been on the receiving end of rudeness, mistreatment and bullying of a fantastical scale at the hands of the UK immigration's border force at the airports. The number of queries laced with "oh, and I want to lodge a complaint to the immigration officers at the airport" seems to me to be on the rise particularly from the end of last yer and the beginning of this year. Common complaints include bullying line of questioning, a constant scepticism of all answers offered by the migrant (one doctor from the far east was asked what he did for a living, when he explained that he was a gastroenterologist, the immigration officer simply scoffed and re-questioned 'you mean a herbal doctor?' - Incredible rudeness, and stupidity, I know), and a slightest of confusion resulting in a slip of the tongue is treated with as much scorn and contempt as if you had told them that you were on your way back from just having climbed to the top of Mt. Everest and back only in your flip flops. It's this hostile attitude, infinite and mostly groundless scepticism of the authenticity of any information provided by the migrant only fosters an environment in which the migrants could never win, and the cynicism of the UK Border Force is only coming true by their own making.

To borrow the words from the lesser known American singer called Jewel:

"I was thinking that it might do some good
If we robbed the cynics and took all their food
That way what they believe will have taken place
And we'll give it to anybody who has some faith

I have this theory that if we're told we're bad
Then that's the only idea we'll ever have

'Cause anyone can start a conflict
It's harder yet to disregard it
I'd rather see the world from another angle
We are everyday angels
Be careful with me 'cause I'd like to stay that way"

- I'm Sensitive, Jewel (1995) -

I'm far from suggesting that migrants are 'every angels' who never tell lies. At the very least, all should be afforded the basic dignity of being treated like a fellow human being, rather than an 'alien' because they happen to be from outside some man-made territory.

In reality, the fact or the result/s of a complaint may not have influence directly, if at all, on the outcome of your immigration checks at point of entry or any future applications for leave to remain, there shouldn't be anything to fear in lodging such applications either. If anything, being 'an asker' might get you something. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

So, herewith, I attach the current version of the UK Border Force's complaints leaflet. The fact that the leaflet gives guidance on both complaints AND compliments seems to imply that complaints are in the same category of seriousness as a compliment I hope you could all see the content properly from these pictures. Otherwise you could also get the same information (perhaps more up to date) from the UKVI's website linked here: