News & Views Monday 4th February to Sunday 10th February 2019


Stansted 15: No Jail For Activists Convicted of Terror-Related Offences

Fifteen activists convicted of a terrorism-related offence for chaining themselves around an immigration removal flight at Stansted airport have received suspended sentences or community orders. The judge decided not to imprison them after he accepted they were motivated by “genuine reasons”. Amid an outcry over what human rights defenders branded a heavy-handed prosecution, the group, who have become known as the Stansted 15, were convicted last December of endangering the safety of an aerodrome.

At Chelmsford crown court on Wednesday, Judge Christopher Morgan QC, dismissed submissions in mitigation that the group should receive conditional discharges for the direct action protest, which briefly paralysed the airport, saying they did not reflect the danger that had been presented by their actions. He said such action would “ordinarily result in custodial sentences”, but that they “didn’t have a grievous intent as some may do who commit this type of crime”. The mood in the court had lightened considerably at the start of the hearing when Morgan said that he did not consider the culpability of any of the defendants passed the threshold of an immediate custodial sentence.

The heaviest sentences were reserved for three of the group who had been previously convicted of aggravated trespass at Heathrow airport in 2016. Alistair Tamlit and Edward Thacker were sentenced on Wednesday to nine months in jail suspended for 18 months, along with 250 hours of unpaid work. Melanie Strickland was sentenced to nine months suspended for 18 months, with 100 hours of unpaid work.

Benjamin Smoke, Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Emma Hughes and Ruth Potts were each given 12-month community orders with 100 hours of unpaid work, while May McKeith received a 12-month community order with 20 days of rehabilitation.

Read more: Damien Gayle, Guardian,

Challenge to Lack of Safeguards for People Held in Prison Under Immigration Powers

The High Court has granted clients of Duncan Lewis Solicitors permission to challenge the lack of safeguards in place to identify vulnerable people held in prison under immigration powers. The Secretary of State for the Home Department and the Secretary of State for Justice are defendants in this claim. This litigation could have profound implications for hundreds of people held in the prison estate under immigration powers every year.

Who is making the challenge?

We are currently representing a number of clients who were held for months under immigration powers in prison despite being survivors of torture and sexual violence, and/or having serious mental health problems. Our clients argue that there is insufficient protection for vulnerable people held in the prison estate as opposed to those in immigration detention centres.

What safeguards currently exist for people in prisons?

The Detention Centre Rules 2001 do not apply for people held in prison. Our clients argue that there is no equivalent to Rule 34 and Rule 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 and that this lacuna is unlawful on the basis that it is unfair/unreasonable, discriminatory, and in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Our clients claim the effect of the absence of safeguards on vulnerable people held for months in prison, is that the Home Secretary is unaware of their vulnerability throughout their detention. Even on the occasion that the Home Secretary has become aware, he has failed to make adequate enquiries about how ongoing immigration detention is affecting them.

Read more: Duncan Lewis,

Home Office 'Wrecked my Life' With Misuse of Immigration Law

The Home Office has been accused of inflicting irreversible damage on the life of a pharmaceutical expert by misusing a controversial clause in immigration law to try to force her out of the UK.

Nisha Mohite finally received indefinite leave to remain (ILR) this week after a government review found she was one of more than 300 highly skilled migrants who the Home Office had wrongly tried to force to leave under paragraph 322(5) of the immigration rules.

The paragraph is a discretionary, terrorism-related clause that the Home Office’s internal guidance states should only be used when the applicant’s misconduct is on a par with “criminality, a threat to national security, war crimes or travel bans”. However, the Guardian has reported extensively on the Home Office’s use of the clause to try to force applicants – including teachers, doctors, lawyers and engineers – out of the UK for making minor and legal amendments to their taxes.

Appealing against a decision can take years, during which time the applicant cannot work or rent property, and neither they nor their immediate family can use the NHS. Many feel forced to appeal because accepting the decision makes it highly unlikely they will ever get a visa for any other country.
Since the Home Office used the clause to reject Mohite’s application for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in 2016 because of a tax amendment, she has lost her job and her home. Mohite, who specialises in the development of anti-cancer and anti-psychotic drugs, sold her possessions, spent all her savings on legal fees and is now heavily in debt.

Read more: Amelia Hill, Guardian,

None of the protesters received custodial sentences
Sentencing Solidarity Demo for Stansted 15 -
Facing Life Imprisonment

Wednesday February 6th 8:30 am till 4:00 pm

Chelmsford Crown Court
3-5 New St, Chelmsford CM1 1NT

In March 2017, 15 people peacefully stopped a secretive deportation charter flight from leaving. After a gruelling 10-week trial they were found guilty of a terror-related charge carrying a maximum life prison sentence.

Join us at 8:30am as we gather outside Chelmsford Crown Court to demonstrate our continued solidarity with the #Stansted15 as they face sentencing, and to demand an end to brutal mass deportation flights, inhumane indefinite detention, and the hostile environment.

We’ll be there all day until sentences have been served, so bring your placards, banners, and voices, to express collective solidarity, energy, love, and support for the defendants and to take a collective stand against this egregious violation of human rights.
Wear a pink item of clothing to visibly express your solidarity

Source: Stansted 15 Campaign,

This Flight left Birmingham airport @ 06:15 hrs 06/02/2019

Stop the Deportation Charter Flight to Jamaica – Later today 06/02/2019

Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP is cranking up his deportation machine. He has defended the deportation of about 50 people to Jamaica this evening Wednesday 6th February - the first such flight since the Windrush scandal. He said the deportees were foreign nationals who had committed "serious crimes". But campaigners insist some of the men are being unfairly targeted by the government's "hostile environment" immigration policy.

Campaigner and solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie said there was confusion around how many people were actually being put on the plane and that it had been "shrouded in secrecy". She said: "We are shocked that the government, not having received the conclusions of the Windrush Lessons Learnt Review should resume these mass deportation flights which were stayed in light of the Windrush scandal."

In the Commons on yesterday, Labour MP David Lammy asked Mr Javid how he could be confident that none of the men due to be deported on Wednesday were also victims of Home Office mistakes.

What you can do:

1) Over a 100,000 people have signed an Online petition opposing the deportation, you can add your signature here . . ..  

2) Email, Fax, phone the Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP, insisting he stops this evenings deportation flight.

His Contact details:

Tel: 020 7219 7027

Fax: 020 7219 0930

Email & Fax: You do not need to be wordy, simply ask the Home Secretary that he stops the flight.

Briefing: Statutory Considerations in Human Rights Appeals

Iain Halliday examines the statutory considerations judges are required to “have regard to” in human rights appeals in the Immigration Tribunal.

He observes that the complexity in this area is due to the Government's attempt to restrict rights, in particular the right to private and family life, without repealing the Human Rights Act 1998. The Government have not been able to repeal the Act as they have never been confident there would be a majority in Parliament in favour of doing so. The Government’s solution, of providing directions to judges through legislation, has been descried as a “constitutional innovation” and  has led to a situation which was recently been described by the Supreme Court as “profoundly unsatisfactory”.

The post examines the background to the introduction of the statutory considerations through the Immigration Act 2014 and reviews the case law applicable to each consideration. The considerations relate to a migrant’s English language ability, financial circumstances, immigration status, and parental relationship with any children who are British citizens or who have lived in the UK for 7 years.

Read more: McGill & Co,

Charter Deportation Flight Lands in Jamaica After Reprieve for Some

A deportation flight carrying 29 people landed in Jamaica from the UK on Wednesday amid concern over Home Office tactics. More than 50 foreign national offenders who were being held in detention centres had reportedly been due to leave on the flight. But many of them were able to have their removal cancelled after their lawyers took action. The Titian Airways flight was not listed on the arrivals board at Kingston’s Norman Manley airport when it touched down from Birmingham at 1.43pm local time on Wednesday.

The Home Office initially indicated many of those due to be deported were rapists and murderers. Officials provided a breakdown of crimes committed by the offenders on Wednesday that said one person on the flight had been convicted of murder and four of various sexual offences including rape.
Fourteen people on the flight – almost half of those being deported – had been convicted of drugs offences. Six had been convicted of violent crimes including grievous bodily harm and battery, and three of firearms and weapon offences. One person’s conviction was for dangerous driving.

The Home Office said the total combined sentences of the 28 men and one woman on the flight amounted to more than 150 years. Lawyers, human rights activists and others have expressed concern about the charter flight and the last-minute nature of the decisions to remove some people from it.

Read more: Guardian,

68 Countries Suffered Net Declines in Political Rights and Civil Liberties During 2018

United States in Decline: Challenges to American democracy are testing the stability of its constitutional system and threatening to undermine political rights and civil liberties worldwide. As part of this year’s report, Freedom House offers a special assessment of the state of democracy in the United States midway through the term of President Donald Trump. While democracy in America remains robust by global standards, it has weakened significantly over the past eight years, and the current president’s ongoing attacks on the rule of law, fact-based journalism, and other principles and norms of democracy threaten further decline.

Freedom in the World has recorded global declines in political rights and civil liberties for an alarming 13 consecutive years, from 2005 to 2018. The global average score has declined each year, and countries with net score declines have consistently outnumbered those with net improvements.

A widespread problem: The 13 years of decline have touched all parts of the world and affected Free, Partly Free, and Not Free countries alike. Every region except Asia-Pacific has a lower average score for 2018 than it did in 2005, and even Asia declined when countries with less than 1 million people—mostly small Pacific Island states—are excluded. Not Free countries as a group suffered a more significant score drop than Free or Partly Free countries, which also declined.

Read more: Freedom in the World,  

Child Migrants Sent to Former Colonies by UK Government to be Compensated

Child migrants from Britain sent thousands of miles from home to Australia in what was described as a “misguided” programme are to be given £20,000 (A$36,000) in compensation by the British government. Under the programme, more than 130,000 children were sent to a “better life” in former British colonies, mainly Australia and Canada, from the 1920s to the 1970s. The children, aged between three and 14, often faced a life of servitude and hard labour in foster homes. The majority came from deprived backgrounds and were already in some form of social or charitable care. Many ended up on remote farms, or in state-run orphanages and church-run institutions. They were often separated from siblings and some were subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

Read more: Sarah Marsh, Guardian,

Official Guidance on the Good Character Citizenship Test

The latest version of the Home Office’s Good character requirement guidance published on 14 January 2019 incorporates long-awaited new sections on children and refugees.

There are also new sections on absolute and conditional discharges, detention and training orders, extremism, deportation orders, NHS debt, and failing to pay litigation costs.

The document now weighs in at a hefty 53 pages, up from a pre-Christmas 30. With the rising page count comes rising frustration with the Home Office’s persistent failure to give ground in how harshly it applies the good character requirement to children.

While the policy is most controversial in respect of citizenship applicants aged 10 to 17, this document is not just aimed at children but at all citizenship applicants.

Source: John Vassiliou, McGill & co,

High Court Orders Hearing to Determine if HO Inquiry Into Detention Centre Abuse Will Comply With Human Rights

On, 31 January, the High Court ordered a two day hearing for early May 2019 to consider whether the Home Office’s proposed inquiry into abuse and mistreatment of detainees at the G4S-run Brook House Immigration Removal Centre will comply with Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment).

In October 2018, following judicial review proceedings brought by our client, known as ‘MA’ to protect his identity, along with another man detained at Brook House, the Home Office performed a U-turn and agreed to appoint the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) to undertake an independent and bespoke investigation into abuse of detainees at Brook House which had been exposed by a BBC Panorama documentary in September 2017. The Home Office had previously argued that the existing mechanisms in place, such as criminal proceedings, an internal investigation by G4S, and a further review into immigration detention by Stephen Shaw (released in July 2018), were sufficient to meet their positive duties under Article 3 ECHR.

The judicial review proceedings were stayed whilst the Home Office determined the terms of reference, the scope of the investigation and the powers that the PPO would be given. These were finalised in January, but the claimants have had no choice but to continue with the judicial review after concerns that the investigation would not comply with Article 3. These concerns include a failure to provide the PPO with the powers to compel witnesses, as well as insufficient guarantees on victim participation and funding.

Mr Justice Holman directed a final hearing to be listed for 2-3 May 2019 to determine whether the Home Office has properly discharged its duties under Article 3. An expedited judgement is expected to follow shortly thereafter.