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Reported Case

SIAC quashes decision to refuse British citizenship based on secret evidence (10 September 2021)

Date: 10/09/2021
Duncan Lewis, Reported Case Solicitors, SIAC quashes decision to refuse British citizenship based on secret evidence

Duncan Lewis Solicitors has successfully represented an Appellant before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in a challenge to a decision by the Home Office to refuse his application for British citizenship.

The Appellant, anonymised as ‘RT’, is an Algerian refugee whose application for citizenship had been refused in 2019 on the basis that it was assessed that he ‘may be supportive of acts of terrorism’ and therefore did not meet the Good Character requirement. No further reasoning was provided to RT nor was he shown any evidence in support of that assessment.

This was the third time that the Home Office had refused RT’s application for naturalisation. In 2007, his application was refused on the basis that it was assessed that he was associated with prominent Islamic extremists, including members of the Groupe Islamique Armée (‘GIA’). A second application in 2014 was refused in 2018, this time on the thinned down basis that it was assessed that RT was associated with the GIA. After RT pointed out that the Home Office had in fact granted him asylum due to his fear of persecution from the GIA, the decision was withdrawn only to be replaced by the far more vague and ambiguous reasoning that he ‘may be supportive of acts of terrorism’.

It is notable that since his arrival in the UK in 1997, RT has never been arrested by the police in relation to any crime, nor has he ever been approached by members of the intelligence services. He has used his platform as a journalist and commentator to publicly condemn terrorist attacks on live television. Furthermore, as part of his application, he submitted voluminous evidence of his vocal and active opposition to terrorism and extremist ideology including his manual for teaching Islamic Studies that contains numerous sections promoting tolerance and pluralism and opposing extremism. His application was supported by dozens of individuals including a former Prevent officer who had trained counter-terrorism police on Islamic radicalisation.

Having considered all of the CLOSED material that neither RT nor his legal team had access to, SIAC concluded that the decision was unlawful and quashed it, remitting it to the SSHD for reconsideration.

Fahad Ansari, solicitor for RT, said:

“While we welcome SIAC’s sensible decision in this case, it remains fundamentally unfair and contrary to the principles of due process for any individual to be sanctioned over allegations of possibly supporting terrorism without ever being shown the evidence against them. RT’s success in SIAC should not be hailed as an example of the system functioning; rather, it should be viewed as an aberration in a process that ultimately denies individual’s access to justice. The fact remains that over 17 years after first applying for citizenship, RT remains at the mercy of the Home Office issuing him with yet another refusal letter with new reasoning, based on secret evidence neither he nor his legal team will ever have access to.”

Representation: our immigration consultant Fahad Ansari instructed counsel David Chirico of One Pump Court Chambers.


Find full details of this case on Bailii’s website here.
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