January 9, 2011

David Burgess, one of the most brilliant immigration lawyers of his generation, died in London, in October 2010

On an autumn evening last October, a slight, pretty woman with a mass of curly hair fell underneath a tube train during rush hour at King's Cross underground station. The driver of the eastbound Piccadilly Line train applied the brakes as soon as he saw the woman lose her balance, but a whole carriage passed along the platform before the vehicle shuddered to a halt. It was shortly after 6.30pm on 25 October when the British Transport Police started trying to recover the body, a gruesome task that lasted late into the night.

The line was closed, the platform cleared. London's Underground network was severely disrupted as commuters struggled to make their way home. And yet, in the sprawling urban mass of the capital, many of those passengers – crushed against each other in scarves and coats, clutching their copies of the Evening Standard and adjusting their iPods – probably reflected that, depressing though it might be, a person throwing themselves in front of a tube train was not particularly out of the ordinary.

But all was not as it seemed. The ensuing media coverage revealed that the police suspected that the woman had not fallen but had been pushed by her 34-year-old female companion, who was later charged with murder. It then turned out that the woman who died, 63-year-old Sonia Burgess, was living a double life. Once the police had established her identity (from her railcard), it was discovered that Sonia was biologically a man – a man named David Burgess, one of the finest immigration lawyers of his generation, a man responsible for a succession of trailblazing judgments in the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

Read full article here.

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