News & Views Monday 19th October to Sunday 25th October 2020


Appeal Court Quashes UK Policy of Removing Migrants With Little Warning

The court of appeal has quashed a Home Office policy of removing migrants from the UK without access to justice. In a unanimous decision, three judges found the policy, which allowed the forcible removal of a migrant from the UK sometimes within hours and in many cases without access to lawyers, to be unlawful. More than 40,000 removals were affected by the policy, resulting in vulnerable people being put at risk. Some were recognised as having been removed unlawfully, were brought back to the UK and granted leave to remain. Wednesday’s ruling will be a blow for the home secretary, Priti Patel, who has vowed to take a tough line on removing migrants from the UK. It also comes at a time when she has been reported to be considering making some definitions of human rights law for judges rather than leaving judges to decide these legal points for themselves.

The judgment from the lord chief justice Lord Burnett, Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Lord Justice Coulson emphasises the importance of the right of access to justice under common law: “The right to access the court is an absolute and inviolable right … the right to access to the court is not a relative right to be balanced against other rights and interests.” The Home Office policy that has been quashed includes “removal windows”, whereby someone is given as little as 72 hours notice that they might be removed from the UK at some point during the subsequent three months, without any warning. The appeal court challenge was brought by the charity Medical Justice, the Public Law Project and Duncan Lewis solicitors.

Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,

Government to Define ‘Degrading Treatment’ in Law to Limit Deportation Challenges

Under plans to speed up deportations, the Home Office is looking at defining ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ in an attempt to prevent human rights challenges and judges from making ‘subjective’ decisions in cases concerning failed asylum seekers and foreign offenders. Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights is often invoked in deportation cases.

Judges in domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights tend to define ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ with reference to the specific circumstances surrounding the given case; however not has been argued that a concrete legal definition would curtail the ability of the courts to interpret Article Three on a case-by-case basis. Speaking to The Telegraph, a Whitehall source said that ministers want to do away with ‘ambiguity’ and ‘reduce the scope for judges to answer philosophical questions’.

Read more: Zoe Darling, Justice Gap,

New Legislation Eases Rules For Vulnerable EU Citizens

New secondary legislation is to be introduced to help vulnerable EU citizens apply for settled status years after the current 30 June 2021 deadline expires. Vulnerable citizens, such as children in care and homeless people, already lawfully residing in the UK are to benefit from the legislation. They will, however, need to prove they had a “reasonable excuse” for not applying ahead of the 30 June 2021 deadline. The government is to take a “generous approach” in terms of what would constitute reasonable grounds for applying after the current deadline and assess applications on a case-by-case basis. Those with a “reasonable excuse” would also face no time limits for their future applications.

It is important to note that the proposed legislation relates only to vulnerable EU citizens. It does not address the concerns of EU citizens who do not receive Pre-settled or Settled-status on time, or those who may not be aware of the need to apply for either Pre-settled or Settled-status to secure their UK immigration status. These scenarios raise concerns regarding the safeguarding of rights of EU and EEA citizens in the UK post-Brexit. For this reason you must apply for Pre-settled or Settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme prior to 30 June 2021 if you wish to reside lawfully in the UK post-Brexit. However, it is strongly recommended that any application is made by 31 December 2020, before the transition period comes to an end.

Posted by: Gherson Immigration,

Migrants Organising - Acting for Justice

Last weekend, under the banner of ‘Solidarity Knows No Borders’, groups in more than 20 locations across the country joined us to take action to demand an end to the Hostile Environment.I n a beautiful display of solidarity, and to fight back against cruel and racist British immigration policies, groups staged socially-distanced protests, banner drops, creative direct actions, vigils, online awareness raising events and photos, they also made posters, and dozens took part in the Justice for Simba poster campaign. We joined together from every corner of the country, with actions organised in Abergavenny, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Dover, Folkestone, Hastings, Halifax, Hull, Liverpool, Central London, London Bridge, Twickenham, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Waltham Forest and Wellingborough. Thank you to every person who organised, attended, spoke out, and took action last weekend.

This is only the beginning of building a migrant-led movement for justice. We have a hard and long winter ahead of us, but we must remember that there is an army of people in every corner of the country prepared to come together in struggle. We must join up, speak out and find a way to escalate our work to achieve justice. Create this movement with us by signing the FIRM Charter, and join us at future actions and organising meetings to build the demand for an immigration system based on basic rights, and on the principles of dignity, justice, and welcome.

Migrants Organize,




English Channel Migrants 'Being Detained in Unfit Conditions'

The Home Office did not prepare for a predictable rise in English Channel migrant crossings, leaving men, women and children detained in unfit conditions, the prisons watchdog says. Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke said migrants were often held in what looked like an unsafe building site. Facilities included containers where it was not possible to socially distance. The Home Office said it has since improved facilities and the way it deals with arrivals. So far, some 7,444 migrants have crossed in boats during 2020 - the third annual jump in arrivals. When the numbers began to rise in 2018, Sajid Javid, the then home secretary, described it as a "major incident".

Migrants are generally taken to two facilities in Dover before being transferred to other units or released on immigration bail. While these facilities are not jails, the prisons watchdog has the power to inspect them because they are used to detain people. One of the facilities, Tug Haven, received 2,500 migrants between June and August - but Mr Clarke said the facilities were completely unsuitable. The detainees entered a fenced compound with a loose rubble base. Once inside, there were a number of gazebos and three containers with chemical toilets - but no means to socially distance and reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus.

Read more: BBCNews,

What is the UK Ancestry Visa?

An ancestry visa is a visa that will allow a Commonwealth citizen with ancestral links to the United Kingdom to live and work in the UK and to be allowed to bring family members to live with you. An Ancestry Visa offers full freedom to work in the UK, including working as a self-employed person or starting your own business.

Who is eligible? You will be eligible to apply for an ancestry visa if you meet all of the following eligibility criteria: You are aged 17 and over; You are a Commonwealth citizen; You are able to prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK , Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or born prior to 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland ; You are able and planning to work in the UK; You are able to satisfy the maintenance and accommodation requirement, ie; you have sufficient funds without recourse to public funds to support and house yourself and any dependants; You can claim ancestry even if either you or the relevant parent were adopted, or born outside marriage in the UK but ancestry cannot be claimed through step-parents.

Read more: Grace McGill,

When is it Too Harsh to Separate a Child From Their Parent?

There has, in recent years, been a proliferation of case law on appeals against deportation by foreign national criminals on grounds of private and family life. The statutory scheme is complex enough, but the various tests (“unduly harsh”, “very compelling circumstances”) have also been subject to extensive judicial gloss, leaving practitioners and judges to wade through a confusing sea of alphabet-country soup case names. It will come as welcome news, then, that the Court of Appeal has greatly simplified things by encouraging tribunals to focus on just a handful of key authorities. In doing so, it has also somewhat softened the approach to determining whether separating a foreign national criminal from his settled child or partner is “unduly harsh.”

[How a child will be affected by a parent’s deportation will depend on an almost infinitely variable range of circumstances and it is not possible to identify a baseline of “ordinariness”. Simply by way of example, the degree of harshness of the impact may be affected by the child’s age; by whether the parent lives with them (NB that a divorced or separated father may still have a genuine and subsisting relationship with a child who lives with the mother); by the degree of the child’s emotional dependence on the parent; by the financial consequences of his deportation; by the availability of emotional and financial support from a remaining parent and other family members; by the practicability of maintaining a relationship with the deported parent; and of course by all the individual characteristics of the child.]

[I would suggest that guidance on the unduly harsh test can now be confined to KO (Nigeria) and HA (Iraq). The latter is a necessary adjunct to the former both because it explains aspects of Lord Carnwath’s observations and because it provides additional guidance on the application of the unduly harsh test. There is no justifiable basis in the language used in the FTT decision for suggesting that the FTT Judge failed to apply the correct test as expounded in these two subsequent cases.]

The unduly harsh test should now be easier for judges to apply and for appellants to satisfy. The Tribunal need not consider the full corpus of case law nor attempt to compare the harshness of deportation against some notional baseline of “ordinary” harshness. Rather, the Tribunal should focus on the facts of the individual case and reach its own conclusion on whether the degree of harshness on the settled partner or child is “undue”. That assessment may depend on an infinitely variable range of circumstances, on which it is for the Tribunal to reach its own judgment. This clarity will hopefully discourage appeals on points of law, but whether the Courts will resist the temptation to provide further gloss on the test remains to be seen.

Michael Spencer, UK Human Rights Blog,

The Hidden Lockdown Deaths

That the national lockdown had a terrible impact on the nation’s health in ways other than the direct impact of Covid-19 is becoming clearer by the day. Just how bad was it? According to a study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, delayed and cancelled treatments will cause an extra 281 to 344 deaths from breast cancer; for colorectal cancer it will be an extra 1445 to 1563 deaths, lung cancer 1235 to 1372 deaths and oesophageal cancer 330 to 342 deaths.

A University of Leeds study estimated that there have already been an extra 2,085 deaths from heart disease and stroke as a result of people not accessing timely medical help, while a study by the University Hospital of Northern Tees reveals that the number of endoscopies – used to investigate and diagnose bowel cancer – fell to just 12 per cent of their normal level between 24 March and 31 May.

According to the Office for National Statistics, an extra 25,472 people have died at home than expected from the average of the past five years. Some of them, no doubt, would have died even had they reached hospital, but not all. Meanwhile, the NSPCC has reported that calls to its helpline averaged 8,287 in May compared with 5,593 in early March, as children were shut away at home with their abusers

That is just a few of the effects of lockdown, and of poor messaging which led to many people failing to seek medical attention – against which the number of lives potentially saved by lockdown will eventually have to be balanced.