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Our People

Our training team includes professional barristers and solicitors, business consultants and other specialists with experience across human rights, corporate responsibility, employment, immigration, family and public law.

Every member of the HJT team are professionals who offer practical experience in their respective fields. Our trainers help run our courses, contribute to keep material up-to-date and are leading contributors and experts in their own right. You can find out more about each of them here.

If you are interested in becoming part of our training team click here

DAVID JONES

CO-FOUNDER

David is a practicing Barrister for over 16 years call. He specializes in the fields of Human Rights, EU Free Movement, and Personal Injury litigation. He is also very experienced in Public and Administrative Law generally and was described in the Chambers Legal Directory in 2015 in the following terms: ‘This effective immigration and public/administrative law advocate has built a formidable reputation for himself over his 16 years at the Bar’.

David has also developed an expertise in civil litigation in relation to false imprisonment and unlawful detention cases, and has been at the vanguard of proceedings seeking to attain equality of treatment for Foreign National prisoners, particularly with regard to access to early release programs. He is a founder and Director of HJT Training established to deliver courses on the law to both the legal and private sector.

David has significant legal training experience. He has delivered legal training to numerous agencies at all levels from international, governmental, NGO’s and local levels to private entities. Recipients of training have included the UNHCR, the Irish Judiciary, the Legal Services Commission, the OISC, Treasury Solicitors and the UKBA.

David is a contributor to a variety of academic texts including Macdonalds Immigration Law and Practice; Your Rights (Liberty); Atkins Court Forms (Butterworths); Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents (Butterworths), and; the HJT Immigration Manual which has now evolved to Mastering Immigration Law. He is also the co-founder of HJT Research which provides on-line country information on human rights conditions in over 80 counties.
He has in the past worked and volunteered for the Immigration Advisory Service, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the Immigration Law Practitioners Association, and is currently a member of the Haldane Society and ILPA.

MARK SYMES

CO-FOUNDER

Mark Symes is a co-founder and director of HJT. He is ranked as a leading practitioner for immigration law in Chambers UK 2018, Mark provides advice and representation in all areas of immigration, asylum and human rights law, including European Union free movement law. He has represented clients in every court from the Tribunal to the Supreme Court, and the European Court of Human Rights. Mark practises at Garden Court Chambers, and has advised or represented some 200 public access clients in recent years. He has a litigation licence and so has systems in place to offer the fullest possible service to clients. The Chambers has several paralegals who administer public access work; Mark is the barrister who takes the lead on their legal supervision and training.

Mark sits as a judge of both the Upper and First-tier Tribunals which gives him very strong insight into the way a case should be presented. He is author of HJT Training’s forthcoming Guide to the Points Based System and main contributor to its comprehensive updated resource Mastering Immigration Law, is a chapter-writer for MacDonalds Immigration Law and Practice, is recognised as the leading textbook writer on refugee law as co-author of Asylum Law and Practice and leading textbook writer on immigration appeals and judicial review as co-author of the Immigration Appeals and Remedies handbook. He set up and delivered the original immigration module at Inns of Court School of Law/City University, and has taught thousands of hours of CPD courses for HJT Training, JCWI, and the professional association for immigration lawyers, ILPA. He is one of the examiners for the Office for the Immigration Services Commissioner and has significant responsibility for the OISC’s standard-setting syllabus.

SANDRA AKINBOLU

Sandra has a busy practice in immigration and asylum, human rights, criminal defence, extradition and family law. Sandra appears at all stages, from first instance through to appeals before the Court of Appeal, dealing with all aspects of public and private immigration work. She regularly appears in asylum and deportation appeals and advises on all aspects connected with those proceedings. Sandra’s judicial review work includes fresh claim refusals, claims for unlawful detention, and injunctive relief for removals.

She  successfully represented a female Sierra Leonean asylum applicant contesting removal proceedings on the basis of a fear of FGM, and has ongoing proceedings involving Iraqi soldiers. Sandra appears on behalf of defendants at all levels, from Magistrates Court trials through to challenges before the Court of Appeal. Hearings have involved defending individuals involved in lawful peaceful protests, confiscation proceedings, and importation of Class A drugs. Sandra has experience of representing and advising individuals facing extradition to all parts of the world, with a particular speciality in human rights.

Prior to being called to the bar, Sandra worked predominantly in human rights research. She was part of the United Nations secretariat for the World Conference Against Racism, a position that took her to Durban for the Conference in 2001. She worked for various NGOs, including Interights and Alliance for Africa. She has also worked as a caseworker in a solicitors’ firm specialising in immigration and asylum law. Sandra regularly gives lectures and seminars both internally within chambers and on behalf of HJT Training. Sandra is involved in the constant development of the Immigration course delivered to MP Researchers.

Sandra has been our top performing trainer for the last 5 years consistently achieving over 90% in her delegate feedback for training delivery. Her personable style and ability to dissect each area of law, for even the least confident of practitioners, has made her a favourite for our accreditation training, particularly at OISC Levels 2 and 3. Sandra is also a trainer for the MP Researchers training to the Authority. Sandra has been a trainer with HJT since 2006.

JULIAN BILD

Julian qualified as a solicitor with Wilson LLP in 1997. Since then he has specialised in representing asylum seekers, but with extensive experience of general immigration work. For many years, Julian supervised the Upper Tribunal work at the Immigration Advisory Service, later becoming their Training and Quality Manager. He then worked for many years  as a consultant, trainer, and lecturer in immigration and asylum law and practice. Currently he works for the Anti-trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU) as an immigration solicitor specialising in representing victims of trafficking.

He has contributed to publications including the HJT Immigration Manual, the Law Society’s Immigration and Asylum Handbook, and Butterworth’s Immigration Law Service. He has also trained for ILPA, lectured for the Law Society, and has drafted the OISC’s competence assessments.

KHADIJA RAHMAN

Khadija is a Barrister at Strand Chambers; having been called to the Bar in 2000. Her initial training at the Bar was in chancery law (with an emphasis on charity law). Since qualifying, she has worked on cases involving various aspects of asylum, immigration and related human rights law, criminal law, and family law.

Prior to joining the Bar, Khadija was an Immigration Counsellor at the Immigration Advisory Service. For a period after she joined the Bar, Khadija was also an employed Barrister and acted as a Legal Manager for an OISC firm. Khadija has also worked on a dual capacity basis when she was a consultant in immigration law at Wainwright & Cummins Solicitors.

Khadija is an Associate Lecturer in the International Asylum and Refugee Law and U.K Immigration Law undergraduate courses at Birkbeck College, University of London.

AGNETE GRIBKOWSKI

Agnete has been IAAS accredited at senior level since 2011. Her casework experience since then has covered the full range of immigration work but with an emphasis on cases involving family migration, asylum, human rights, domestic violence, no recourse to public funds issues, trafficking, EEA free movement and nationality.

While working at Islington Law Centre, Plumstead Community Law Centre and Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network, she was passported and regulated by the OISC at Level 3 via those organisations. She has provided outreach advice at Hackney Migrant Centre, Greenwich Migrant Hub and Lewisham Advice (second tier advice via Lewisham CAB) as well as general casework including advocacy at the First Tier Tribunal. In terms of privately funded immigration work, in the past Agnete has provided paralegal assistance at Wesley Gryk Solicitors.

While a caseworker at ILC, PCLC and LRMN, Agnete developed a passion for creating comprehensive yet succinct up-to-date immigration law guidance materials to assist in satisfying the considerable unmet client demand outside legal aid scope post LASPO. This was achieved via materials specifically designed to empower clients to prepare correctly their own Home Office applications. She also created materials designed to speed up and improve the internal training of casework volunteers up to OISC level 1 whose assistance was increasingly indispensable given funding constraints. 

Since 2015, she has been assisting public access immigration barristers at Garden Court Chambers and in January 2017 Agnete also  joined the research- and editorial team at HJT Training, both on a freelance basis. She currently provides regular updates to the subscription service Mastering Immigration Law, e-books, course materials and other resources, including the OISC exam resource booklets and the new weekly immigration law update.

STACEY WIDDISON

Stacey is a barrister, with over 13 years experience specialising in a wide range of immigration and family law matters.  In 2003 she was approved by the Legal Services Commission to undertake publicly funded immigration and asylum work.

In 2007, Stacey was accredited by the BSB as an advocacy trainer of BPTC students, and in 2010, she set up her own practice, where she currently provides advice and representation on a public access basis.  She also trains regularly for HJT and is a visiting lecturer at the University of Law (formerly known as the College of Law).

BRENDAN BEDER

Brendan has specialised in UK Immigration Law since setting up Beder-Harrison & Co in 1992.   This followed him studying Comparative Immigration Law for his Master of Laws Degree at University College London where he also undertook a specialist course in Law Lecturing.  He lectured in Commercial Law whilst completing a B.A. and LL.B. Degree in South Africa also completing his Legal Training with a leading law firm and working for a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Brendan’s Practice has developed a niche in respect of Tier 1, Tier 2 and Sponsor License work as well as all other areas of Immigration Law leading to Settlement and Naturalisation.   He provides Immigration services to Corporate and Private Clients of a number of firms of Solicitors.

Brendan is frequently called on by these firms to provide presentations updating their partners and key clients on all aspects of and changes to UK Immigration Law.    Brendan qualified in Executive Coaching at Regents College in 2005 and provides Executive and Change Management Coaching to mainly Law and other Professionals.

SHEILA MCDERMENT

BSC MA CIPD

Sheila is a freelance Learning and Development Consultant with extensive experience of training, organisational development, HR, management and sales, gained from working in a variety of business sectors.

Sheila has broad experience of delivering leadership programmes, international management training, team building events & business coaching.

She has also worked with many major companies including Unilever, Monsanto UK Ltd, and The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Sheila has been involved with changes such as mergers, takeovers, restructuring, relocation, and training for the above mentioned organizations. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (MCIPD).

EDWARD MYNOTT

After obtaining his PhD at Manchester University and pursuing a career in academic research on asylum-related topics, Edward switched to legal practice in 2003, joining the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit. From 2006 to 2011 he worked at the Immigration Advisory Service in the north west of England, with joint responsibility for Upper Tribunal (IAC) matters and the delivery of training.

He is a member of the Law Society’s Immigration Law Advanced Accreditation Scheme and a member of the Consulting Editorial Board (Immigration) of Lexis PSL. Following a period in private practice at immigration specialists Latitude Law in Manchester, he is now practising as an OISC-regulated freelance advocate in the First tier and Upper Tribunals and regularly delivers training on all aspects of immigration law.

Edward has been a member of the Law Society’s Immigration Law Advanced Accreditation Scheme since 2010 and was a member of the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme from 2005-2010. His practice now concentrates on preparing and presenting appeals as an advocate in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier and Upper Tribunals and delivering specialist training. Edward is also a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA).

In 2012 he joined the Consulting Editorial Board of Lexis PSL Immigration and is a contributing author. Edward has designed and delivered training courses to practitioners and others since 2008, and has also worked as an assessor on the Immigration and Asylum Accreditation Scheme, marking Reaccreditation examination scripts.

GABRIELLA BETTIGA

Gabriella Bettiga is a consultant immigration solicitor and accredited as Level 3 Advanced Caseworker under the IAAS scheme. With extensive experience in business and private immigration as well as asylum and human rights she regularly assists clients on a variety of immigration matters and British and Italian nationality law.

Gabriella is the chair of the independent cost and funding adjudicators at the Legal Aid Agency (MoJ). She is also involved in policy work with various NGOs, particularly concerning women asylum seekers, and LGBT claims.

Gabriella has delivered training courses for HJT, ILPA, Asylum Aid and other leading organisations and she has guest lectured at various universities on migration and gender issues.

How To Run a Legal Aid File, and Running and Asylum Claim are two of the most popular courses Gabriella has delivered for HJT Training.

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