The Chair of EIN, Gary McIndoe, remembers the life of Shindo Maguire, EIN's former Chief Executive
The practice of immigration law has changed much in the past 28 years. It was at the start of that period – roughly the last time consolidated Immigration Rules were published - that I first met Shindo. She was managing the casework team at the UK Immigrants Advisory Service – soon to be renamed IAS – and together with the late Gail Elliman interviewed me for a job at the Great Dover Street office. I had finished law school the previous July, and had struggled to get a job in the law. Thankfully these two women glimpsed some potential in me, and I started work in the Advice Unit in January 1993.
Shindo had joined UKIAS in the 1970s, and worked there as a manager until 2006, rising to Regional Director by the time she took redundancy. During her long year career with the organisation she oversaw a huge expansion in its services, including its outreach at unlamented sites like Oakington. She recruited many people like me who were embarking on their legal careers, and who have gone on to become leading lights in our field: Glen Hodgetts, Colin Yeo, Vanessa Ganguin, Lanre Adio and Richard McKee to name a few.
We were lucky, then, to work in an environment where legislation – section 17 of the Immigration Act 1971 - guaranteed direct funding to organisations providing legal representation to those affected by immigration law and rules. While those organisations had their ups and downs, resulting in the schism that led to the creation of the Refugee Legal Centre, the principle of free legal advice, without means testing, was something we only missed when it no longer existed.
Shindo went on to be appointed a member of the Immigration Services Tribunal, and in 2010 took on the role of Chief Executive of the Electronic Immigration Network, EIN.
She joined EIN at a difficult time; previous managers had let the charity slide into a very dark place, due to inattention and subsequently outright fraud. Shindo was brought in to right the ship, get it back on an even keel. Her long-time colleague and friend Gail Elliman was then Chair of Trustees, and enthusiastically supported Shindo's appointment.
I had stayed in touch with Shindo after I left IAS in 1998, and it was a real pleasure to resume our professional relationship at EIN when I was invited to become a Trustee in 2012. I became Chair of Trustees on Gail's death in 2014, and since then have enjoyed working closely with Shindo on the development of the site and its resources.
Shindo leaves EIN in an enviable position; its subscription model has allowed the charity to avoid many of the problems befalling others in the third sector during the pandemic. It retains its commitment to free resources, with part of the site – notably the Best Practice Guide to Asylum Appeals and a blog series with informative articles on the law - remaining in front of a paywall. She has ensured that EIN remains true to its charitable objective of disseminating legal and country information as widely as possible. She has negotiated long-term contracts with both the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office, who use EIN's resources in the preparation of decisions and defence of appeals.
Shindo was not a qualified lawyer, but access to justice was a principle held close to her heart. She was a gifted manager, respecting those she employed and developing them to their fullest potential. In the words of former Tribunal judge and fellow EIN Trustee Geoffrey Care, "Shindo's example of humanity and devotion to whatever or whoever she touched ensures her memory is secure to us all".
She understood the best interests of the organisations for which she worked. It will be hard to replicate the away-days she organised for the small team who contribute to EIN's success, at the end of which we would often find ourselves, a little worse for wear, in the back room of a London pub. She was a people person, a conciliator, a pragmatist. I will miss her steadying hand, her quiet efficiency. I will miss her friendship and the support she has given me.
A requiem mass for Shindo will take place at 10.30am on Thursday 28 January 2021 in Westminster Cathedral, Victoria, London SW1P 1QW. The Cathedral will be live streaming the requiem mass which will last about 40 minutes. It will feature the readings, organ music and cantor. Online viewers will see the interior of the Cathedral from a fixed point but not those attending. The audio will capture all the readings and music within the funeral service. The live streaming may be freely accessed by visiting www.westminstercathedral.org.uk and clicking on 'Watch our Live Stream' on the home page.