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In The Press Articles

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Gay woman who was gang-raped after being unlawfully deported to Uganda wins court case against Home Office (The Independent) (28 September 2020)

A gay woman who was unlawfully deported from the UK to Uganda where she had been gang-raped has won in a court case against the Home Office. The 26-year-old was brought back to the UK last year under High Court orders after it was ruled that the decision to reject her asylum claim was unlawful as it did not give her sufficient time to obtain evidence to support her case. The Home Office attempted to challenge the court decision for her to return to Britain, but the Court of Appeal dismissed the department’s appeal on Monday, as well as ruling that the woman was unlawfully detained in the UK for a period of four months.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office U-turns after unlawfully slashing support for trafficking survivors during pandemic (The Independent) (22 September 2020)

The Home Office has made a U-turn on a decision to cut financial support for trafficking victims during the pandemic days before legal action is due to take place. The department was due to face lawyers in court arguing that the government should reinstate support to all potential modern slavery survivors in initial asylum accommodation. However the Home Office made changes to its modern slavery guidance to state that this group would continue to receive support, although the rate was reduced from £35 per week to £25.40. The government said it would also backdate payments for all potential victims of modern slavery housed in initial asylum accommodation to the date in July when payments were stopped. Rachael Davis, comments: “The government left hundreds of survivors of trafficking without any financial support for two months during a global pandemic. Survivors should not have to fight so hard to receive the little financial support to which they are legally entitled.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

UK judge halts Home Office flight to remove asylum seekers (The Guardian) (17 September 2020)

A senior high court judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, has halted an entire Home Office charter flight hours before up to 20 asylum seekers who crossed the Channel to the UK in small boats were due to be forcibly removed to Spain a country they had already passed through. Under Dublin III regulations one European country can return asylum seekers to another that they have previously passed through if there is evidence of this in the form of fingerprints or other proof. The flight was grounded due to concerns that the asylum seekers might be left destitute in the streets of Madrid in a similar fashion to another group earlier this month. It is believed to be only the second time an entire Home Office charter flight has been grounded by a high court action. A Duncan Lewis spokesperson welcomed the decision; “We hope the Home Office will take this high court decision on board and consider carefully their removal policy to Spain.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Solicitor Sunday Aladetoyinbo takes part in BBC Radio 1Xtra discussing housing matters (15 September 2020)

Housing solicitor Sunday Aladetoyinbo recently took part in the BBC Radio 1Xtra discussion “’Rona: What’s the future of renting?” where he discussed the impact lockdown has had on those who are renting. Sunday offers expert advice and opinion on some of the most pressing matters including asking landlords for a reduction in rent and the likelihood of a surge in evictions.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office reinstates financial support of less than £4 a day for trafficking victims (The Justice Gap) (3 September 2020)

The Home Office has decided to reinstate financial support for trafficking victims after removing it earlier in the pandemic. Modern slavery survivors will receive a reduced rate of £25.40 from 28 August, down from £35 a week, and will backdate payments to July, when support was stopped. Campaigners have welcomed the move but said that support was ‘nowhere near enough’. Rachael Davies ‘Survivors should not have to fight so hard to receive the little financial support to which they are legally entitled. The government left hundreds of survivors of trafficking without any financial support for two months during a global pandemic.’   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

‘No earthly reason’: Thousands of refugees denied sanctuary in UK after settlement scheme frozen during lockdown (The Independent) (2 September 2020)

The Home Office is being urged to reopen resettlement programmes amid warnings of refugees being stuck in limbo overseas. Public law solicitor Sheroy Zaq warns that people who had been accepted as refugees by the UK were waiting “in limbo” overseas as a result of the continued pause on the resettlement programme, and that this was “symptomatic of this government’s shameless attitude towards foreign suffering”.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Lawyers ‘painted as villains by Home Office’ over migrant crossings (Multiple Sources) (2 September 2020)

The Home Office is facing criticism following its claim that ‘activist lawyers’ are hindering its efforts to deport migrants. This comes after the Home Office published a video in which it explained how it was working to remove people with no right to remain in the UK. The video showed a graphic of aeroplanes leaving the UK with the caption “We are working to remove migrants with no right to remain in the UK” adding that lawyers representing migrants were trying to disrupt the asylum system. The video has since been deleted following criticism from legal professionals and others. The row followed news that a flight holding 23 migrants scheduled for Thursday was halted after a high volume of last-minute legal challenges prevented its departure. Duncan Lewis Solicitors represented a number of the 23 and all were classed as a risk to themselves or others in detention. Public law director Toufique Hossain comments – “Yet another attack on lawyers who are simply doing their best, under exceptionally difficult circumstances, to assist deeply vulnerable clients. This isn’t an attack on activism, it is an assault on the rule of law and people’s constitutional right to access justice. The Government can keep saying what they are saying, but we’ll continue to do what we are doing.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

'No formal evaluation' of digital system for immigration appeals (The Law Gazette) (2 September 2020)

A digital system piloted on a small scale last year to manage immigration and asylum appeals was parachuted into the justice system without any formal evaluation, a public law charity revealed. The Gazette also comment on our Harrow-based public law team serving the government a letter before action regarding new legal aid fees for appeals lodged under the online procedure.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Lord Chancellor concedes Legal Aid Regulations are unlawful (11 August 2020) (ILPA) (26 August 2020)

The Lord Chancellor has accepted that the making of the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 was unlawful. This was in response to a judicial review brought on behalf of the claimants by Duncan Lewis’s Toufique Hossain, Simon Robinson and Jeremy Bloom, in which they instructed Chris Buttler and Eleanor Mitchell of Matrix Chambers, and Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Procedural muddle: family case came before 15 judges (The Law Gazette) (20 August 2020)

A reported family law case, R v P (Children: Similar Fact Evidence), involving allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour came before at least fifteen judges, the Court of Appeal reveals in a judgment highlighting the importance of judicial continuity. The case concerns a father’s application for contact with his two young children. The mother opposes contact, alleging that the father subjected her to extreme coercive and controlling behaviour, and sexual abuse including rape. Solicitor Michelle Lubelle of the Harrow office’s family department is representing the mother in this case.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

'Procedural muddle': family case came before 15 judges (The Law Gazette) (20 August 2020)

A reported family law case, R v P (Children: Similar Fact Evidence), involving allegations of controlling and coercive behaviour came before at least fifteen judges, the Court of Appeal reveals in a judgment highlighting the importance of judicial continuity. The case concerns a father’s application for contact with his two young children. The mother opposes contact, alleging that the father subjected her to extreme coercive and controlling behaviour, and sexual abuse including rape. Solicitor Michelle Lubelle of the Harrow office’s family department is representing the mother in this case.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

A brief guide to wills and estates in Spain (The Gazette) (18 August 2020)

Zeen Al Atroshi of the wills and probate department discusses Spanish succession laws and how to obtain probate in Spain. With approximately 380,000 British citizens currently living in Spain Zeen outlines the importance of making a will and offers advice on how to draft a will under Spanish law, Spanish succession laws, and how to apply for probate in Spain.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

The domestic violence concession: for the few, not the many (Free Movement) (18 August 2020)

Public law solicitor Sulaiha Ali has written about the long-awaited Domestic Abuse Bill for Free Movement which recently progressed to the House of Lords stage of becoming law. Sulaiha notes that whilst many have been hailing the Domestic Abuse Bill as a “landmark” cross-party success, many black and minority ethnic-led specialist women’s services argue that it fails to account for one of the most vulnerable groups in our society: migrant survivors of domestic abuse who do not have recourse to public funds.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Lord Chancellor revokes immigration fixed-fee regime (Solicitors Journal) (14 August 2020)

The Solicitors Journal has reported on our victory in the battle to overturn the government’s fixed fee regime for immigration and asylum claims. The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 set a £627 fixed fee and came into force on 8 June. The regulations applied to the remuneration of legal aid providers for appellants whose asylum and immigration appeals are being dealt with under an online procedure, which was rolled out in mid-March after a pilot phase. The Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC revoked the new regulations having agreed that inadequate consultation was conducted prior to roll-out of the regime.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Possession proceedings after the lockdown (The Landlord and Lawyer Podcast) (13 August 2020)

Housing director Bernadette Chikwe featured in episode 2 of The Landlord and Lawyer Podcast discussing the new Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Direction setting out how claims are to be dealt with after the coronavirus lockdown stay ends after 23 August 2020. The episode discussed the new rules themselves, considered the relative merits of ‘digital first’ and ‘court hearing first’court procedures, discussed legal aid and what tenants are entitled to, and also discussed whether there should be a housing court, among other housing issues.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Public law department’s work to stop charter flight removals to France garners widespread coverage (Multiple sources) (13 August 2020)

The public law team in Harrow has been featured in a number of media outlets regarding their work representing some of those who are due to be on the planned charter flight to France which will be the first to deport asylum-seekers since the beginning of the lockdown. Director Toufique Hossain appeared on Good Morning Britain and spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. Solicitor Jamie Bell also made a radio appearance on The Times Radio, and Lily Parrott was quoted in Morning Star explaining the situation for many of the deportees that the team is representing. “Many are victims of torture, sexual assault or trafficking and many suffer from mental health issues. In these cases, getting specialist legal advice to help navigate the system may be the last protection a person has.” The team’s work has also been featured in The Times and on Yahoo Sports.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Government U-turn over immigration fee reform (Law Gazette) (12 August 2020)

The Lord Chancellor is to revoke a controversial fixed fee regime for immigration and asylum appeals work after our public law team commenced judicial review proceedings. The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020, which came into force in June, introduced a £627 fixed fee. We served a letter before action on the Lord Chancellor challenging the lawfulness of the regulations and issued judicial review proceedings last month, outlining that the Lord Chancellor failed to consult lawfully before making the regulations and failed to gather the information reasonably required to make a proper decision. On 11th August it was announced that the Lord Chancellor will revoke the regulations.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Asylum seeker removal flight to go ahead despite last-minute court action (The Guardian) (12 August 2020)

A charter flight to remove asylum seekers who recently arrived in the UK on small boats is due to take off despite last-minute high court actions in the early hours of Wednesday morning and other interventions which have led to at least 19 people not boarding the plane. The 19 who have a stay of execution now have an opportunity to make more detailed asylum representations in the UK. Helen Baron comments; “We are extremely relieved that 19 clients at risk of removal on August 12 have had their removal directions deferred by the Home Office, stayed by the court or confirmed that the Home Office never in fact set directions for their removal. Many are extremely vulnerable and have suffered further trauma from being detained and their fear of removal after surviving horrors in Yemen, Kuwait, Iran and Afghanistan as well as en route to the UK. We will continue to fight for their protection in the UK.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office spends more than £1m deporting hundreds of people at height of lockdown, figures show (The Independent) (10 August 2020)

The Independent reveals that the Home Office spent more than £1m on deporting hundreds of people during the height of lockdown, despite government instructions warning against all non-essential travel. Trainee solicitor Helen Baron told The Independent that the sum of money spent was ‘outrageous’ and added, “It is horrifying to think how many lives they have put at risk prioritising immigration detention and forced removals during a pandemic.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Refugees tell of brutality as people-smuggling across Channel booms (The Guardian) (7 August 2020)

Toufique Hossain speaks to The Guardian in light of the recent reports from refugees of increasingly brutal tactics used by people-smugglers transporting thousands across the Channel in small boats, as calm seas and the Covid-19 pandemic create a boom in the trade. Toufique comments; “Refugees are fleeing death, war and torture. That is why they are prepared to risk life and limb, death by drowning, imprisonment and enslavement along the way. Far from dismantling the hostile environment, Priti Patel is taking it to its extreme.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office restarts deportation of asylum seekers despite coronavirus fears (The Independent) (7 August 2020)

Asylum seekers are set to be deported for the first time since coronavirus took hold in the UK, prompting concerns that the Home Office is “playing politics with public health”. Trainee solicitor Lily Parrott is representing one man who is scheduled to be on a charter flight to France after he arrived in the UK in May, crossing the Channel in a small boat from Calais. Lily comments; “These asylum seekers risk facing destitution and homelessness. Further, we have not been assured that the people being removed are being done so lawfully or that the Home Office has checked whether they are at high risk from Covid-19.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Landmark decision on “particular social group” (Free Movement) (4 August 2020)

Free Movement have taken an in-depth look into one of our recent reported cases DH (Particular Social Group: Mental Health) Afghanistan [2020] UKUT 223 (IAC) The case affirms the supremacy of the Refugee Convention 1951 over EU law by reference to the Convention’s object and purpose; recognises for the first time in UK asylum law that a “person living with disability or mental ill-health” may qualify as a member of a particular social group (PSG); and it clarifies the correct legal approach, overturning previous unhelpful tribunal authority, approving obiter comments of the House of Lords as well as affirming the UN Refugee Agency guidelines (helpfully annexed to the decision) making it easier to establish a PSG in all cases. Solicitor Stefan Vnuk represented the appellant.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Trafficking victims’ financial support slashed unlawfully during coronavirus pandemic, lawyers warn (The Independent) (4 August 2020)

Hundreds of trafficking survivors have had their financial support slashed unlawfully during the coronavirus pandemic, lawyers warn. We issue the Home Office a pre-action letter requesting that it reinstate financial support to all potential victims in hotel accommodation, after we successfully challenged cuts to support for five individuals, whose support was subsequently reinstated. Ahmed Aydeed comments; “Instead of increasing basic support for victims of trafficking during this pandemic, the home secretary has unlawfully cut the basic subsistence payments made to them. Survivors of trafficking are entitled to this support and desperately need it to enable them to recover and escape from their traffickers.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

British trafficking victim sues Priti Patel alleging abuse of personal data (The Guardian) (4 August 2020)

A British victim of trafficking is bringing a case against the home secretary, Priti Patel, arguing that her department unlawfully accessed personal information including details of her intimate thoughts. The woman was drugged, abused and trafficked on a number of occasions for the purposes of sexual exploitation and drug trafficking. She has suffered extensive sexual and physical abuse, and was exploited to undertake criminal activities. She has been confirmed by the Home Office to be a serial victim of modern-day slavery. The case she is bringing focuses on the Home Office’s claim that it owns the extensive data collected on victims of trafficking by charities contracted by the department, under the victim care contract. Public law director Ahmed Aydeed said that at one point last year the woman was detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act. She was due to be discharged but had nowhere to go to. Aydeed challenged the Home Office to provide accommodation and argued that the government had a responsibility to do this as she was a victim of trafficking. In the course of acting for his client, Aydeed says it became clear the Home Office had obtained sensitive information about her from the database that he considered irrelevant to her trafficking case. This included details of her thoughts and feelings.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office breaking law by leaving destitute asylum seekers homeless (The Independent) (24 July 2020)

Under asylum law, the Home Office is required to grant housing and support to asylum seekers who are waiting on their claims, or whose claims have been refused but who aren’t able to leave the UK. A number of recent court orders reveal that the government has been told it must house destitute individuals whom it has a legal duty to support. Ahmed Aydeed speaks to The Independent about such cases that he and his team have been involved in. “The home secretary, in all these cases, accepts clients are destitute and need urgent support, yet does nothing for months. Charities are having to fill the gap, and we’re receiving urgent referrals where that is simply no longer possible.” He says, adding; “Our clients were lucky that they received this additional support from these wonderful charities, but I’m extremely concerned for those who do not receive this support and do not have legal representation. We’ve had cases where there hasn’t been a charity to fill the gap, and we’ve had to issue proceedings on the weekend to ensure clients aren’t left destitute. Who knows what’s happening to people who do not have legal representation.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Asylum seeker to sue Home Office after falling ill with Covid-19 (The Guardian) (21 July 2020)

An asylum seeker who became infected with Covid-19 after an outbreak in his accommodation – despite assurances from the Home Office that he would not be at risk from the virus there – is taking legal action against the government. Isabella Kirwan who is part of the Duncan Lewis public law team representing the man bringing the challenge says; ”Residents of Urban House are at grave risk of contracting Covid-19. It is clear that they are unable to properly protect themselves in conditions that are manifestly unsafe. The Home Office has yet again failed an extremely vulnerable group of individuals.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Uneasy Street (The Law Gazette) (20 July 2020)

Housing director Bernadette Chikwe is featured in the Law Gazette’s article highlighting the vulnerabilities of the under-resources legal ecosystem which sees housing law as one of the most exposed areas. Bernadette draws attention to some of the benefits of the recent Coronavirus Act 2020, which came into effect on 25 March, in which landlords must now give at least three months’ notice before they can start proceedings to evict tenants (an emergency measure in place until 30 September). “Clients do get more time, if, for example, they lost their jobs or were furloughed, to get their financial circumstances in order.” She says.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office removal window makes access to justice ‘practically impossible’ (Law Gazette and The Justice Gap) (8 July 2020)

Both The Law Gazette and The Justice Gap have reported on the challenge to the Home Office’s immigration policy that campaigners say imposes too tight a timetable for people facing deportation to get proper access to justice. The challenge is brought by Medical Justice represented by Public Law Project, and ‘FB’, an individual who faced removal under the policy who is represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors. It is argued that the Home Office policy is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Dublin III regulations preventing those being removed from having a fair chance to put their case forward and has led to ‘tens of thousands’ of deportations .   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office increases support for trafficking victims after lawyers argue rates are 'discriminatory' (The Independent) (2 July 2020)

The Home Office has increased support for suspected modern slavery victims after facing a legal challenge claimed the current levels were discriminatory and left vulnerable mothers unable to afford basic essentials. Solicitor Shalini Patel who brought a judicial review against the Home Office to challenge the fact that a significantly lower level of financial support is provided to victims of trafficking who are pregnant or have children and do not claim asylum, compared with victims of trafficking who claim asylum, comments; “For victims of trafficking this period brings back memories of long-term trauma. A number of women are pregnant when they enter the NRM and a number of those fall pregnant as a result of sexual exploitation. To have discriminated against this extremely vulnerable group for so long has been another shameful chapter in the government’s treatment of trafficking survivors. I am glad this challenge has brought about a long-term change.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Boxer trafficked as child wins right to stay in UK after 16 years (Multiple sources) (1 July 2020)

Reuters and other international sources, including the Nigerian Tribune, report on our client, former England boxer, Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, who was trafficked from Nigeria as a child and forced into domestic servitude has won the right to remain the UK after a 16-year legal battle. Sumbul Phillips comments on the positive outcome; “It has been an incredibly positive outcome for Bilal, but also serves as a reminder to everyone that there are hundreds of others, being overlooked all too easily by the government.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Asylum seeker set to challenge “illusory” right to work rules (Free Movement) (22 June 2020)

The High Court has granted permission for a judicial review challenge to the rules on when asylum seekers are allowed to work in the UK. The challenge, which argues among other things that the decision to refuse permission to work outside the Shortage Occupation List was “irrational, unreasonable and breaches the Claimant’s rights under Article 8” of the European Convention on Human Rights. Solicitor Sulaiha Ali comments; “…the current rules only create an illusory right to work for asylum seekers, as very rarely will they be able to work in a job listed in the Shortage Occupation List.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office ordered to pay for hotel for family in unsafe accommodation (The Guardian) (12 June 2020)

A high-court judge has ordered the Home Office to pay for a hotel for a vulnerable asylum seeker and her two young children, after twice placing them in unsafe accommodation over the past 10 months. The woman and her children were placed in Home Office accommodation in August 2019, but made numerous complains about the conditions. Concerns were also raised by the children’s school, social services, lawyers, and charities. After nearly 10 months, they were moved to a hotel in east London which was dirty, infested with insects, and was impossible to carry out physical distancing. Public law solicitor Maria Thomas comments; “Our client was subjected to harassment, racist abuse and overcrowding. Despite her pleas for help the home secretary did nothing to resolve this and placed her and her children in a hotel which was unhygienic, unsafe and failed to comply with the government’s guidelines for social distancing.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Public law director Vinita Templeton discusses Commonwealth veterans on BBC Radio 5 (10 June 2020)

Public law director Vinita Templeton discussed her work assisting Commonwealth veterans who served in the British Army and now face extortionate immigration fees after they maintain that they were not made aware that they needed to apply for indefinite leave to remain immediately upon discharge. Vinita clearly points out that this issue is not simply an oversight of the Home Office; “They [the Home Office] know very well what the position is, this is not the first time that this has come up, last year the issue of fees was supported by close to 140 MPs who signed and presented a letter to Sajid Javid seeking a waiver of these fees and the response was a clear cut ‘no, we do not believe that Commonwealth soldiers should be treated in any other way than other migrants to the United Kingdom.’ That is the official line and is something that was published as a formal response to that letter presented to the Home Secretary. So no, it is not an oversight at all.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Public law director Toufique Hossain takes part in BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action programme (BBC Radio 4) (10 June 2020)

Public law director Toufique Hossain spoke to Joshua Rozenberg on BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action programme discussing the legal challenge against Home Secretary Priti Patel launched by Detention Action. Toufique explained the reason behind the legal action. “We took the view based on expert evidence, that people in the detention estate being held under immigration powers would be at real risk of serious harm and indeed death because the expert reports said that the way in which the coronavirus would spread rapidly through a detention facility meant that the only real option would be releasing people held under immigration powers in great numbers.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

‘Hammer blow for access to justice’: Trafficking victims will be left with no legal representation under ‘ill-considered’ new rules, lawyers warn (The Independent) (8 June 2020)

New rules on legal aid mean that trafficking victims and vulnerable asylum seekers will be unable to access legal representation. The Independent reports on how Duncan Lewis Solicitors is threatening to sue the Ministry of Justice over its failure to consult on the changes, warning that without any apparent evidence base, the amendment increases the likelihood that legal aid providers will be under-compensated for their work and places access to justice at risk. Toufique Hossain notes; "Years of cuts to public funding have decimated the legal aid sector, and these latest amendments make the situation untenable for migrant lawyers. There is now too great a risk that legal aid lawyers will simply be unable to represent those who need help the most, having a devastating effect on access to social justice."   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

The 10-year British Army Veteran from Fiji charged thousands for NHS treatment (talkRADIO) (29 May 2020)

talkRADIO spoke to our public law director Vinita Templeton (07:54), who represents eight veterans who are taking action against the MoD. She highlighted the continuing problems that many former Commonwealth soldiers have faced. She comments: “it’s just an issue that needs to be resolved and it’s not good enough for the government to simply resolve it on a piecemeal basis and try to sweep it under the carpet, which is what is being done and that as far as we’re concerned [is] the reason why we are pursuing this legal action - we don’t feel that is good enough, we feel that this has to change”.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Lord Chancellor could face JR over immigration fee change (The Law Society Gazette) (29 May 2020)

The Law Society Gazette reports on our Harrow-based public law team serving a letter before action on the Lord Chancellor challenging the lawfulness of the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (the Amendment Regulations) on behalf of four of its clients. The legal team includes Toufique Hossain, Jeremy Bloom, and Simon Robinson. They have instructed Chris Buttler and Eleanor Mitchell of Matrix Chambers and Ali Bandegani of Garden Court Chambers.  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office deporting migrants who cross Channel in small boats (The Guardian) (22 May 2020)

The Guardian reports that the Home Office has launched an initiative – known as Operation Sillath - to deport migrants who cross the Channel from France to the UK in small boats. Lily Parrott, trainee solicitor in the public law department, is working on a legal challenge concerning Operation Sillath and the return of asylum seekers to France. She comments; “We are increasingly concerned about a trend that we have seen where the Home Office seeks to remove people from the UK to France after they arrived to the UK by boat. We feel that this is being done illegally and on the basis of a conflation between the Dublin convention and a UK-France treaty about border management. This would be an egregious breach of European law that allowed many asylum-seekers to be wrongly removed from the UK.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Appeal judges dismiss challenge to Home Office paying immigration detainees £1 an hour (The Justice Gap) (21 May 2020)

The Court of Appeal has dismissed our challenge to the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s policy of paying immigration detainees a fixed pay rate of £1 an hour in order to work in detention. “This is a very disappointing decision for our clients,” said Philip Armitage of Duncan Lewis Solicitors who represented the appellant. “The £1 an hour rate of pay for detainees has now been in place for twelve years with no increase. Our clients were undertaking key work within the IRCs, including cleaning to ensure the centre was hygienic, and all they are asking is that the value of that work is respected by the Home Office.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Court rules bar set too high for NHS surcharge and visa fee waivers (The Guardian) (21 May 2020)

Our public law team have brought a case in relation to the Home Office’s fee waiver policy, with the Upper Tribunal declaring that the current policy is unlawful. Saul Stone, the solicitor who acted in the case comments: “This is a landmark judgment which will provide some reprieve to the thousands of people who apply for waivers of extortionate Home Office fees each year. This group is likely to include many low-paid migrant NHS workers who have been unable to demonstrate that they are destitute but nevertheless cannot afford the fees required to apply to stay in the UK. If you are granted a fee waiver for your immigration fees, you are also granted a fee waiver for the health surcharge – it goes hand in hand.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office to review detention policy after admitting trafficking victim was locked up unlawfully (The Independent) (19 May 2020)

The Home Office is undertaking a review of its immigration detention policy after admitting that it held a Vietnamese trafficking victim in a removal centre unlawfully. Ahmed Aydeed, who represented the victim of trafficking comments on the outcome; “After finally escaping her traffickers, our client was criminalised and falsely imprisoned by our government. The Home Secretary has now accepted her wrongdoings, but continues to detain thousands of survivors of human trafficking and slavery every year in these horrific immigration detention centres,” adding; “We welcome the Home Secretary’s agreement to review the deficiencies within her current policy in line with our submissions and evidence. These policies are extremely important as they impact on thousands of survivors of human trafficking and slavery.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

British army veteran faces £27,000 NHS hospital bill (The Guardian) (19 May 2020)

A Fijian-born, Commonwealth veteran who served for over a decade in the British army has been told that he must pay over £27,000 for NHS hospital bills following an emergency operation to remove a brain tumour. Taitusi Ratucaucau is classified as an overseas patient and therefore ineligible for free NHS care. He joined the British army in 2001 and has been continuously in the UK since being discharged from the military in 2011, living here with his wife and three daughters, and paying tax and national insurance. His lawyer, director Vinita Templeton comments on the case and the situation of those in similar circumstances; “All our clients are afraid that seeking medical will result in the Home Office being notified of their situation, and in being faced with medical bills that they cannot afford.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Student housing: do I still need to pay if I've left? (The Guardian) (7 May 2020)

Housing director Manjinder Kaur Atwal offers expert advice to university students who have been forced to leave their student accommodation or privately rented rooms empty as a result of university closures due to the government lockdown.She points out that the outbreak of Covid-19 is unlikely to prevent a tenancy from continuing. “If students have entered into a contract for a fixed period of time, which is yet to expire,” she explains “there may be a break clause allowing them to terminate the contract before the end of the fixed term, after providing the required notice. Students are advised to negotiate with their landlord immediately, as the obligation to pay their rent will continue in accordance with their contract, they could remain liable for any rent due up to the expiry of the notice period.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

"£5 a day is not enough": Asylum seekers surviving on ‘scandalously low’ financial support during pandemic (The Independent) (5 May 2020)

The Home Office faces a legal challenge over asylum support rates during the UK lockdown as the current conditions create a ‘support gap’ for those who are having to survive on just £37 a week. Our public law team in Harrow has issued a pre-action letter to the Home Office arguing that the support gap that has been opened up by the current conditions must be filled by temporarily increasing the support rates to level that would ensure purchasing power at least equivalent to that in the pre-pandemic period. When the Home Affairs Select Committee asked if she would consider increasing support rates by £20 a week, Home Secretary Priti Patel claims that she has seen no evidence that asylum seekers are struggling to meet their basic needs on the current rates. Director Toufique Hossain argues that the evidence is overwhelming that asylum seekers are living in desperate circumstances and that the levels of support are ‘insufficient’. “Priti Patel can no longer hide behind her ignorance.” Toufique told The Independent, “This existential shortfall was pointed out to her during the recent select committee hearings and her answer betrayed that once more she was not across her brief. Now that the home secretary has seen the evidence from refugee charities and the information contained in our pre-action correspondence shining a bright light on the desperate measures being adopted by asylum seekers to survive in this period, we hope she will change course, urgently.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office facing legal challenge over failure to support new asylum seekers during pandemic (The Independent) (23 April 2020)

Immigration trainee solicitor Raman Kumar is quoted in The Independent as hundreds of asylum seekers are being forced to choose between travelling to London to submit their claims, or surviving without the support they are entitled to as a result of a lack of an alternative submission process during the lockdown. Raman, who is representing an Afghan man who was told that he could not arrange a screening interview to apply for asylum for his family of seven until after the lockdown has been lifted, reveals that this is going to be challenged by judicial review, adding that the Home Office had “failed to operate lawful policies during this time of public health emergency”.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Firm fights off ‘unlawful’ policy to send clients 120 miles away (The Law Gazette) (23 April 2020)

Duncan Lewis Solicitors is featured in The Law Gazette’s article on how the president of the first-tier tribunals attempted to bar the firm from hearings in Birmingham after two of our directors were appointed as judges there. The president issued a policy that all cases in which an appellant was represented by Duncan Lewis were to be transferred 120 miles to Hatton Cross in West London. Duncan Lewis had submitted that the policy was unlawful.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

350 freed from immigration detention (Inside Time) (15 April 2020)

Public law director Toufique Hossain spoke to Inside Time in light of the Home Office releasing 350 immigration detainees from immigration detention centres following the legal challenge led by the Duncan Lewis public law team on behalf of charity Detention Action. As a result of this, one-third of detainees have been released in response to the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the total population within in detention centres down from 1,100 to 750. Toufique comments that; “this litigation has brought about the release of hundreds of detainees, preventing many from suffering serious harm.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

“The government’s help for renters is not enough.” (RT TV) (26 March 2020)

Housing director Manjinder Kaur Atwal was interviewed by RT TV on how the government intends to assist renters during the coronavirus outbreak. She explains how the package introduced by the government in an attempt to protects both renters and landlords during the uncertainty of the pandemic. “The government announced help for renters due to the coronavirus; unfortunately, the legislation itself does not follow through” she explains.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Coronavirus: 'Symptoms' at three immigration removal centres (BBC News) (25 March 2020)

The BBC reports on how three immigration removal centres in the UK are housing people with symptoms of coronavirus. Immigration lawyers are aware of the Home Office continuing to arrest people and place them in IRCs during the coronavirus pandemic, something that due to the inability to remove people to their countries of origin because of the lack of deportation flights, is putting all those held in immigration detention at risk of contracting the virus. Public law director Toufique Hossain comments; "…it is now abundantly clear the Secretary of State has no lawful basis to detain simply because removals can no longer take place."   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Charter flight deportations: the Wild West of immigration law (Legal Action Group) (24 March 2020)

Public law solicitor Maria Thomas discusses the recent charter flight deportations with Legal Action Group, calling for an end to this legally and morally dubious practice. Maria explains how Duncan Lewis issued proceedings for 14 individuals on 10 February 2020, seeking, first, to prevent anyone from being forcibly removed to Jamaica pending the publication and implementation of the Windrush lessons learned review. As well as arguing that there was a heightened risk to anyone being removed by charter flight, as a result of the intense publicity and media scrutiny surrounding this type of deportation. The generic challenges failed, but seven of our 14 clients were taken off the flight on the basis of individual facts, either by court order or deferred by the secretary of state herself. The remaining seven benefited from the Court of Appeal order, and all 14 are now in the process of preparing their fresh claims. Maria’s key message is that “…deportation by charter flight is unnecessary and unjustifiable, and amounts to mass expulsion, which – for good reason – is unlawful under international law.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office releases 300 from detention centres amid Covid-19 pandemic (The Guardian) (23 March 2020)

The Guardian reports on the unprecedented release following legal action arguing that the Home Office is failing to protect immigration detainees. Duncan Lewis Solicitors Immigration and Public Law departments were instructed to bring the legal action by Detention Action in what is thought to be the first legal action against the government relating to the coronavirus outbreak. The action was bought on behalf of all those who are particularly vulnerable due to age or underlying health conditions, as well as for all detainees to be tested along with the suspension of all new detentions. Public health expert Prof Richard Coker of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provided an expert report, commissioned by Duncan Lewis, in which he warns that prisons and detention centres provide ideal incubation conditions for the rapid spread of the coronavirus, and that about 60% of those in detention could be rapidly infected if the virus gets into detention centres.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Fears over coronavirus risk in prisons as first UK inmate case confirmed (The Guardian) (19 March 2020)

A report by Professor Richard Coker of the London School of Hygiene and Topical Medicine warns of the risk of Covid-19 spreading at a fast rate through locked establishments such as prisons and detention centres, this comes following the news that the first case of coronavirus in Strangeways prison in Manchester. This report was commissioned by Duncan Lewis Solicitors as we embark on what is believed to be the first legal action concerning Covid-19; calling on the Home Office to release many detainees from immigration detention due to the high risk of contracting the virus should they remain locked up. Public law director Toufique Hossain comments; “The government is sitting on its hands, keeping detainees locked up during this pandemic, contrary to its earnest public health instruction and exposing detainees to a severe risk of infection. The time for swift action is overdue.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

MOD must 'urgently resolve' Right to Remain for Commonwealth veterans, MPs warn, after Royal Navy becomes latest force to be pulled into immigration row (The Telegraph) (18 March 2020)

MPs are warning that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) need to urgently resolve the Right to Remain issue for Commonwealth veterans after the Royal Navy became the latest force to be pulled into the immigration row, The Telegraph reports. Mark Waiganjo served in the Royal Navy as a medic for seven years and has accused the MoD of failing to inform him of the correct procedures he was required to follow in order to process his immigration status to permanent residency in the UK. His lawyer, immigration director Vinita Templeton comments that his case also has the “insurmountable” cost of application fees on top, which for himself, his wife and two young children would cost nearly £10,000.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

England rugby players’ ex-soldier father stuck in Fiji because of immigration rules (Multiple sources) (11 March 2020)

Multiple sources internationally, including The Guardian and Fijivillage, are reporting on the news that a number of Commonwealth army veterans – including Ilaitia Cokanasiga, father of England rugby player Joe Cokanasiga – have taken legal action after they were classified as illegal immigrants following their discharge after the army failed to inform them that they needed to make an immediate application to the Home Office for leave to remain in the UK. Mr Cokanasiga sought advice from immigration director Vinita Templeton who confirmed that the immigration stamp on his card was invalid. Vinita comments; “Mr Cokanasiga’s situation highlights just how widespread this issue is, and how ex-servicemen can unwittingly remain unaware that their exemption stamp does not confer a valid right to remain in the UK after being discharged. This is a family that has benefited the United Kingdom hugely, but has been severely let down by the government.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Lawyer in the news: Toufique Hossain, Duncan Lewis (The Law Gazette) (9 March 2020)

Public law director Toufique Hossain was featured in The Law Society Gazette. The feature outlines his role in obtaining a court injunction last month on behalf of Detention Action, to stop the Home Office deporting individuals on a charter flight to Jamaica. Toufique relayed his thoughts on the case stating: “We have experience in urgent removal work but what we wanted to achieve here was ambitious. To take on several individual cases and develop an important strategic challenge at the same time was intense work.” On the widened media interest in the Jamaican cases he notes: “…what has perhaps made this story so striking is that the media, and the public at large, now see that the government’s deportation regime is not populated with tabloid caricatures, but our neighbours and friends. Deportation is cruel and the net is case wide.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Commonwealth veterans accuse UK of leaving them in immigration limbo (Multiple Sources) (9 March 2020)

The Guardian and The Times report on how a group of ex-soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking legal action against the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) over systemic failures. Immigration Director Vinita Templeton is bringing the action on behalf of eight men who claim that the army failed to inform them that they needed to make an immediate application to the Home Office for leave to remain in the UK on discharge. This is despite a clear MoD requirement that the process should be explained to all non-British veterans in the period before they leave the army. The extortionate and unaffordable costs of Home Office application fees have further prolonged their state of limbo. Vinita comments: “I have seen unimaginable suffering by servicemen. Their state of limbo since learning that their immigration status is actually unresolved, sometimes years later, has brought about loss of jobs, fear of accessing public services, and for, some homelessness.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Want to divorce but can't afford a lawyer? Here's 12 ways to reduce, defer or pay your legal fees if you have little or no money (This is Money) (6 March 2020)

Child care director Emine Mehmet is featured in This is Money’s article on alternative ways to fund a divorce for those who cannot afford a lawyer. The article, details twelve ways for those with little or no money to reduce, defer or pay their legal fees when going through divorce proceedings. Emine offers prudent advice to those hoping to obtain legal aid funding for their divorce, pointing out that although legal aid funding for divorce was withdrawn in 2013, it remains available for cases where abuse has occurred; “You have to give one of the prescribed forms of evidence. It's not just a case of one call to the police. Some people may not have the proof as the very nature of relationships may be that they were unable to get it.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Man died in 'plain sight' at detention centre (BBC News) (5 March 2020)

A jury at the inquest into the death of a Ghanaian man at an immigration removal centre near Heathrow has found that neglect was a factor, finding that there was gross failure across all agencies to provide appropriate care for someone unable to care for himself. Prince Fosu was suffering from hypothermia, dehydration, malnourishment, and psychosis when he died at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre in 2012. Public law director Ahmed Aydeed comments; “The government is simply refusing to accept that immigration detention does not work.” He further highlighted the continuing issues surrounding the care immigration detainees receive; “…healthcare staff, staff at immigration detention centres, and also Home Office staff who make decisions on detention are not adequately trained to deal with these cases.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

The Home Office is about to deport a ‘torture victim’ who claims he endured slavery in the UK (The Canary) (28 February 2020)

The Canary reports on a detainees at Harmondsworth (WS) who is expected to be aboard a deportation charter flight to Pakistan, despite the fact that he claims to have been subjected to torture whilst in Pakistan and a victim of modern slavery in the UK. Public law caseworker Dunya Kamal explained that when WS submitted his own modern slavery claim it should have been investigated by the Home Office’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM). “On receipt of the modern slavery claim, the HO [Home Office] should decide whether or not to make a referral to the NRM and then a Competent Authority should make a reasonable grounds decision.” She explained.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

How do I convince the Home Office I am a lesbian? (BBC) (27 February 2020)

Immigration director Zofia Duszynska is featured in the BBC’s account of Angel’s story about how she fled Zimbabwe in fear of her life after police discovered that she was a lesbian five years ago. Since fleeing, Angel (not their real name) has had to convince the Home Office that she is gay. The Home Office's decision on whether to grant or refuse asylum depends on whether the interviewer finds the asylum-seeker's account authentic and believable - but each interviewer may have his or her own assumptions about what an authentic and believable account should look like. Zofia comments on how interviewers previously had a tendency to ask intrusive questions about sexual behaviour; “Now rather than physical descriptions, decision-makers require an emotional journey, for applicants to describe how they discovered they were gay and the emotional impact on them.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Jamaicans whose removal was ruled unlawful by courts still detained and apart from families two weeks on (The Independent) (27 February 2020)

Jamaicans who were granted last-minute reprieve from a deportation flight two weeks ago are still in detention and unable to reunite with their families, in what lawyers have said could be an unlawful move by the Home Office. Public law caseworker Georgia Banks discusses her client’s situation; “The Home Office shamelessly brought him to the airport by ambulance on the night of the flight but the High Court ordered a stay on removal. Today he will be released and be able to return to his family.” On the fact that many remain detained, she added; “Without the specialist bail tribunal’s intervention, they remain locked up. There is no lawful basis justifying prolonged detention as their removal cannot take place within a reasonable timeframe.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Potential modern slavery victims among dozens facing imminent removal on charter flight to Pakistan (The Independent) (26 February 2020)

Public law director Toufique Hossain speaks to The Independent after numerous asylum seekers, thought to be victims of torture, are set to be forcibly removed to Pakistan on the third charter flight to leave the UK in as many weeks. Toufique pointed out that he and his team had seen a number of last-minute referrals of victims of modern slavery, trafficking and torture on the flight on Wednesday. “The Home Office know this. They’d rather wait for the courts to intervene than do the right thing.” Toufique said; “The Home Office continue their relentless practice of mass expulsion by way of charter flights, undeterred even by recent clear examples where removal would have been unlawful.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Torture victims who endured slavery escape deportation by matter of hours after lawyers intervene (The Independent) (26 February 2020)

The Independent reports on how at least 16 people who were issued removal directions have been granted a last minute reprieve after it emerged they were trafficking victims and should not have been detained. Immigration trainee solicitor Isabella Kirwan, said she and the team had successfully deferred the removal of six people due to be on the flight, all of whom had disclosed indicators of exploitation to the Home Office which she said should have triggered referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), the UK's framework or identifying victims of modern slavery and trafficking. “The Home Office intended to remove these refugees from the UK without even looking at whether they had been forced into labour or had survived of human trafficking before arriving in the UK,” she said. “The clients all disclosed indicators of exploitation to the Home Office which should have triggered referrals into the NRM for the Home Office to investigate this further. All of the clients we took on were Eritreans who had passed through Libya. The Home Office has a legal duty to protect refugees who have survived torture and human trafficking. They are routinely failing in this duty.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Graduate, 26, fell in love with HSBC manager, 56, before sending disturbing messages (Mirror and multiple other sources) (26 February 2020)

The Mirror reports on how, Ms Salt, a 26-year-old graduate trainee fell in love with her older manager, before it turned into a terrible ordeal. Crime solicitor, Marina Williamson who represented the client told the court that “she [Ms Salt] met the victim during a six-month internship at the bank and little did she know it would end up in the terrible ordeal that has ended here. He was a senior at the bank, thirty years older than her and she was quite vulnerable, quite young. She fell deeply in love with him and that is part of the reason she behaved so badly at the end.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office attempted to deport man unfit to fly shackled in an ambulance (The London Economic) (26 February 2020)

The London Economic reports on the cruelty of the Home Office’s deportation policies as an attempt was made to deport a 56-year-old father of three despite medical concerns about his fitness to fly. Public law solicitor, Maria Petrova-Collins who represents the man due to be deported to Jamaica comments: “Experts from Medical Justice certified my client as unfit to fly and he was granted individual stay of removal by the High Court hours before the charter flight departed on that basis. The Home Office was ready to deport the client without any evidence that his medical condition and fitness to fly had been investigated…He sleeps with an oxygen mask and suffers from a long list of medical conditions, including but not limited to extremely high blood pressure, respiratory failure and chronic kidney disease. In fact, the Home Office has been fully aware of his medical condition from the outset…yet is still opposing the client’s bail application and placing his life at risk by maintaining the decision to detain him. Such conduct should be heavily criticised not only as being clearly unreasonable but also inhumane.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office to deport vulnerable asylum seekers (The Guardian) (20 February 2020)

The Guardian reports on Home Office plans to depot vulnerable asylum seekers and suspected victims of trafficking on a charter flight. Lawyers within the public law department at Duncan Lewis Solicitors have obtained last minute high court injunctions preventing some suspected victims of trafficking from flying on today (20th February 2020). The flight will be going to Switzerland, Germany and Austria under Dublin convention legislation and EU rules that require asylum seekers to claim asylum in the first safe EU country they arrive in. Public law director Toufique Hossain raises the point that injunctions often have to be filed in the high court at the eleventh hour by legal aid lawyers as a result of previous lawyers letting people in detention centres down. Toufique comments that: “Access to justice is even more critical in these circumstances.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

British woman repeatedly trafficked for sex after Home Office failures (The Guardian) (18 February 2020)

A high court judge has been forced to compel the Home Office to house a vulnerable British sex trafficking victim who had been re-trafficked by county lines drugs gangs on numerous occasions and was about to become street homeless after the Home Office failed to fulfil its legal obligation to provide her with safe accommodation. Public law solicitor Rachael Davis, who is representing the victim comments; “The failure to provide our client with the specialist support and accommodation to which she was legally entitled has had devastating consequences, including her having been repeatedly re-trafficked, sexually assaulted and financially exploited. Our client was recognised as a victim of modern slavery as long ago as June 2019, yet she was not provided with a safe place to live until January 2020 – and only once we had obtained a court order compelling the secretary of state for the home department to do so. It is wholly unacceptable to refuse to provide specialist support and accommodation to a victim of modern slavery because their needs are too complex. Ultimately these are the people who need it the most.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

BID exposes Immigration Detention in Prisons at ‘Behind Locked Doors’ (BID) (14 February 2020)

Public law director Toufique Hossain presented at the ‘Behind Locked Doors’ event held by BID (Bail for Immigration Detainees) which aimed to expose immigration detention in prisons. Toufique outlined the two challenges the Duncan Lewis public law department is currently working on, the first being the challenge to the lack of safeguards in prisons for vulnerable detainees and the second being the lack of access to legal advice. “They are clearly vulnerable; many of them are torture survivors or victims of trafficking. Those detainees if they were in immigration removal centres could use the safeguards there. At least if you’re detained in immigration detention you can go to the health care units in IRC’s and then eventually try and go to the Home Office and say that you have evidence that you’re a victim of torture so you need to be released… In prison, and this was confirmed in a report by Stephen Shaw the former prison ombudsman, the prison rules don’t offer the adequate protection and so we took that and tried to challenge the failures and lack of safeguards in prisons.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Appeal court gives 11th-hour reprieve to detainees due to be sent to Jamaica (Multiple Sources) (14 February 2020)

Lawyers from the Duncan Lewis public law department have been extensively featured in the media concerning the charter flight deporting over fifty people to Jamaica. Public law director Toufique Hossain is quoted in The Guardian concerning our representation of Detention Action who brought the legal challenge against the deportation owing to the lack of O2 phone network at Heathrow detention centres which left detainees unable to exercise their legal right to contact their lawyers. Toufique comments; “For weeks now detainees’ complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Their removal looms large, hours away and yet again it takes judicial intervention to make the Home Office take basic, humane and fair steps to allow people to enjoy their constitutional right to access justice.” Caseworker Dunya Kamal is also quoted in The Independent, commenting; “This is yet another example of the callous and cruel way in which they have approached this charter flight.” During a radio interview on BBC Radio 5 Live’s The Emma Barnett Show, solicitor Maria Thomas highlighted the fact that a number of the detainees committed their crimes “…in the context of being victims of trafficking, specifically county lines trafficking.” This, she explains, shows that; “…there are real questions to be answered before proceeding with this type of forcibly removing a number of people and this mass expulsion.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office admits mobile phone outage in detention centres as deportees unable to contact lawyers (The Independent) (10 February 2020)

The Independent reports on how a mobile phone outage at removal centres has prevented people from accessing crucial legal services to challenge their deportation, days before a charter flight is set to leave the UK. Public law and immigration solicitor, Marina Khan who represents one of the detainees, Mr Bepart-Woollett, comments on the outage, stating “…we were trying to contact him every day since he instructed us.” As a result, Marina was unable to submit her client’s documents to the Home Office during office hours as she did not receive them in time. She notes that “…the delay was unreasonable…it’s caused a lot of undue stress and frustration for our client. He’s been totally deprived of contacting his legal representatives and unable to access legal justice and advice from us.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Government under pressure over Jamaica deportation flight (Multiple sources) (7 February 2020)

A number of media outlets including BBC News and The Dumbarton Reporter are reporting on how potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery are among those due to be deported to Jamaica by charter flight next week. Public Law director, Toufique Hossain is representing 13 of the people due on Tuesday’s (11 February) flight and comments that he has “serious concerns” regarding the vulnerability of the people on the flight. One of his clients has been in the UK for many years and was convicted of a drugs offence when he was young. It was an offence he claims he was forced to commit by older gang leaders and Toufique notes; “…this sort of exploitation and forced criminal activity does very much go into the realms of trafficking and modern slavery.” As such, there have been calls to halt the flight until true facts of each situation have been established and in keeping with the UK’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

How modern slavery victim was left in limbo for five years by Home Office (The Independent) (7 February 2020)

The Independent reports on the case of Awais Raza, an Afghan national who fled violence, forced labour and sexual exploitation in his home country, but subsequently faced a different challenge securing protection and support from the Home Office. Immigration Director, Gabor Nagy who represented Awais and referred his case to the National Referral Mechanism comments that although the Home Office claims to treat victims of trafficking as a priority in relation to their asylum claims it continues to question and delay their right to be granted protection and support in the UK. Gabor notes “…the whole process from start to finish took the Home Office an unacceptable five years while my client was left in limbo with his severe PTSD. The waiting around has affected him so much that he still required counselling and physiological intervention long after he has been granted refugee status in the UK.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Brexit is happening today: what exactly does it mean? (alondon.net) (31 January 2020)

Trainee solicitor Efrat Shemesh has written an article for alondon.net on the implications of Brexit, notably how it will affect free movement and EU nationals who wish to exercise their free movement rights in the UK. Efrat writes; “Brexit will end the free movement of EU nationals into the UK and British nationals into other EU member states. This article will only deal with the implications on EU nationals who wish to exercise their free-movement right in the UK.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Wrongly deported Sudanese asylum seeker flown back to UK (The Guardian) (17 January 2020)

The Guardian reports that our client, a Sudanese asylum seeker, who was wrongly deported by the Home Office has been flown back to the UK, after his departure from Khartoum was delayed by a gunfight. The man is a non-Arab Darfuri and as such his life is at risk from the Sudanese regime. Home Office country guidance states that all non-Arab Darfuris seeking asylum in the UK should be granted refugee status. Despite evidence of his origin, after spending 11 weeks in immigration detention, the Home Office forcibly removed the client to Sudan where he was then forced to go into hiding. Duncan Lewis commissioned a report from the leading authority on the man’s tribe and the Home Office accepted that the new evidence amounted to a fresh asylum claim, conceding that the decision that led to his removal was unlawful, and agreed to fly him back to the UK. Solicitor Jamie Bell is quoted; “The Home Office had clear evidence of this man’s ethnicity but chose to ignore it. It was with great joy that we welcomed him back to Heathrow yesterday. He and his supporters had fought a 14-month battle for his return since the dreadful mistake to remove him in October 2018.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Swansea charity worker who fled DR Congo wins asylum fight (BBC News) (15 January 2020)

BBC News reports on our client, a charity worker who arrived in Swansea after fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo, has won his asylum battle to remain in the UK. Otis Bolamu was arrested and detained by UK authorities in December 2018 and was released on appeal after thousands signed a petition to let him stay in the UK. Duncan Lewis’ public law team confirmed on January 14th 2020 that he had been “finally granted asylum”, and thanked the community support from Swansea and Wales in turning the case around in a tweet, noting that the petition to allow Mr Bolamu to remain in the UK was “…signed by 68,000 people.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Thousands of asylum seekers not reporting rapes due to Home Office stigma and ‘culture of disbelief’ (The Independent) (7 January 2020)

The Independent reports on how thousands of rape victims seeking protection in the UK are facing stigma from the Home Office, which is preventing them from reporting their sexual assault. Public Law director, Toufique Hossain comments on the issue, stating that “there is a culture of disbelief” and further notes that those within the Home Office “simply don’t believe women.” He further adds that “…the confrontational environment and tone of questioning in interviews are all geared for rejection. The starting point is the woman is not telling the truth. The vast majority of women who get to the UK and claim international protection have sadly suffered some sort of sexual or gender-based violence or trauma.” Having worked in legal aid for almost two decades, Toufique notes that the emergence of ‘legal aid deserts’ in parts of the UK has made it difficult for some women to get support, and as such, they are being forced to turn to private lawyers who they cannot afford to pay for the medical legal reports required to prove sexual violence.  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Woman’s vital cancer treatment delayed over £150k NHS charge (The Guardian) (13 December 2019)

Trainee solicitor Kiren Azam won an appeal against the Home Office, on behalf of an elderly patient from Azerbaijan who was told pay £150k upfront for treatment, despite official guidance on urgent care. It was not until September, when the appeal for leave to remain in the UK was successful and that the patient, now 75, had the upfront charges dropped and treatment was finally provided.The Guardian reports how the lady was suffering from two forms of cancer and had vital NHS treatment delayed for months because she couldn’t afford the £150,000 upfront charge. The case highlights not just the impact of the government’s upfront charging regime, introduced in 2017 as part of the ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants, but also the failure of changes to the guidance given to hospitals that were announced in response to previous controversies.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Supreme Court finds detention of asylum seekers unlawful (Multiple outlets) (28 November 2019)

Free Movement and The Independent report on the Supreme Court’s confirmation in the case of Hemmati v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] UKSC 56 that the detention of asylum seekers for their removal to other EU states under the Dublin Regulation was unlawful between 1 January 2014 and 15 March 2017, when new regulations were belatedly adopted. Solicitor Krisha Pathepan is quoted; “…it is deeply concerning that the Home Office’s conduct has led to the detention of so many vulnerable people seeking international protection without any lawful basis. We ask that they urgently review all their detention policies”.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

EU children can be lawfully resident in the UK without exercising treaty rights (Free Movement) (28 November 2019)

Free Movement has reported on the outcome of MS (British citizenship; EEA appeals) Belgium [2019] UKUT 356 (IAC) in which the Upper Tribunal confirms that certain EU citizen children in the UK can be considered lawfully resident for the purposes of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, even if they have not exercised treaty rights or have no official Home Office documentation. MS appealed the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse to revoke a deportation order made against him, he was successful at the First-tier Tribunal following which the Secretary of State appealed to the Upper Tribunal. Immigration director Jenna McKinney and trainee solicitor Van Ferguson represented MS at the Upper Tribunal, arguing that ‘lawful residence’ for the purposes of section 117C(4) of Part 5A of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 should not be tied to the exercise of treaty rights.  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office unlawfully imprisoned asylum seekers, Supreme Court rules (The Guardian) (27 November 2019)

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that individuals detained under Articles 28 and 2(n) of the Dublin III Regulations solely for the purpose of removal was unlawful. This affects hundreds or potentially thousands of individuals detained between 1 January 2014 and 15 March 2017, who may be entitled to damages for their false imprisonment. Public law solicitor Krisha Pathepan, part of the team that successfully brought the challenge comments; “This is a brilliantly clear and forceful judgment which has huge implications for those detained for the purposes of removal under the so-called Dublin III regime between 1 January 2014 and 15 March 2017. The right to liberty is a fundamental human right. The impact of this judgment is profound – yet again the home secretary’s policies in relation to detention have been found to be unlawful. Her actions have caused untold misery for so many people – including many vulnerable victims of torture and trafficking, and people suffering from PTSD and other mental health conditions who never should have been detained in the first place.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Study restrictions 'unlawfully imposed' on university students (The Law Society Gazette) (22 November 2019)

The Law Society Gazette reports on the Home Office’s acceptance to review its immigration bail guidance after Duncan Lewis challenged their decision in a case concerning two asylum-seeking university students. Public Law solicitor Hannah Baynes, who was integral in representing the two students comments: “It became apparent that the Home Office imposed what appeared to be a blanket ban on "appeals right exhausted" (ARE) individuals studying, when their guidance clearly stated that the imposition of study restrictions for ARE individuals should be discretionary, and such a practice did not appear to be the intended aim of schedule 10.” The Home office conceded in the settlement of the two claims for judicial review that it had acted unlawfully in imposing a study restriction as a condition of bail, simply because they had failed in their initial asylum claims and exhausted their appeals rights. Hannah also notes that “we have seen first-hand from our clients the positive impact that being able to study has had on them, not only in terms of gaining important knowledge and skills to enable them to pursue their career aspirations, but also the impact on their mental health and emotional well-being. The imposition of study restrictions singles out already-vulnerable asylum-seeking students from their course-mates, making them feel inferior and of less value on account of their immigration status.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Police could share immigration data from lorry deaths appeal (The Guardian) (5 November 2019)

The Guardian reports on the refusal for Essex Police to confirm that they will not share data on the immigration status of anyone willing to provide information on the deaths of 39 people in a lorry with the Home Office. Public law director, Ahmed Aydeed expresses concern and doubt that relevant people will come forward unless the police give specific assurances that they will not contact immigration officials. It is currently police policy to share data with the Home Office on the immigration statuses of victims of crime, if the information gathered by the police indicates that they are living in the UK illegally. This could lead to witnesses or victims not understating that their data could be shared with immigration officials if they do choose to come forward. Ahmed comments: “The police also need to confirm that when they conduct intelligence checks during their investigation, and it is apparent that the relevant person is suspected of being an illegal entrant, they will not contact immigration enforcement. Unless the police provide cast-iron guarantees on this, it is unlikely relevant people will come forward.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

‘Traumatised’ Vietnamese man detained in UK for two years despite evidence he was a trafficking victim (The Independent) (5 November 2019)

The Independent reports on a Vietnamese man, a client of public law solicitor Shalini Patel, who was detained in the UK for two years despite evidence that he was a victim of trafficking and torture. The man arrived in the UK in 2015 hidden in a van with 11 other Vietnamese nationals, two years later he was arrested after police found him working on a cannabis farm and he was sentenced to 18 months before the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) could make a decision on whether or not he was a victim of trafficking. In detention, numerous Rule 35 reports raised concerns that the man was a potential victim of torture, and highlighted a number of indicators that he had been exploited and abused. Shalini commented on the treatment of her client; “This client was detained under immigration powers for a longer period of time than he spent in prison for a criminal conviction for which he was not guilty of. How someone can be accepted as a potential victim of trafficking but simultaneously also be convicted for a crime he was trafficked into is just abhorrent behaviour. The police want victims to report exploitation, but why would anyone come forward if this is how they are treated? It is about time the authorities used evidence to protect these vulnerable people and target the traffickers.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Caroline Roche speaks to Hayes FM about the work Duncan Lewis carried out for Will Aid (Hayes FM) (1 November 2019)

According to Will Aid research more than half of people in the UK have not prepared a will. Wills and Probate director Caroline Roche gave a live interview to Hayes FM explaining her involvement in Will Aid and the importance of making a will. “In the event where you have a loved one who hasn’t left a will, the issue that can be caused is that under the law of intestacy the estate may be entailed to someone they didn’t want to inherit. That is why it [making a will] is so important; you have your wishes set out clearly, those wishes are legally binding and everyone knows where they stand.” She also gave listeners an insight into how Will Aid works; “It takes place in November… [clients] meet with us in the normal way, we take their instructions in the same way we would with any other client, they receive the same level of service, and once everything is concluded they are then free to make a donation to charity via Will Aid for the purpose of having their will drafted.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Sulaiha Ali speaks to multiple media outlets about her experiences representing victims of trafficking (Multiple Outlets) (31 October 2019)

Public law solicitor Sulaiha Ali has been featured in multiple media outlets discussing her experiences of representing victims of trafficking, in the wake of the deaths of 39 people in a lorry trailer in Essex. Sulaiha was featured on both Sky News and ITV News during the week and also spoke to the Associated Press via Skype where she noted the ‘significant rise’ in Chinese nationals entering the UK and being exploited as victims of human trafficking. Sulaiha also participated in BBC Radio 5 Live program ‘The Drive’ where she explains why many people chose to enter the UK illegally as a result on not being able to secure an entrepreneurial visa.  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Lorry deaths: police face trust problem over appeal to Vietnamese migrants (The Guardian) (31 October 2019)

Public law director Ahmed Aydeed speaks to The Guardian in relation to the police’s request that victims of human trafficking come forward with information concerning the recent discovery of 39 people who died in a refrigerated lorry trailer in Essex. When it emerged that a number of those who died were Vietnamese, the police asked for other Vietnamese people who are in the UK illegally to make contact with the authorities, believing they may be crucially important to the investigation. Ahmed, whose client KQT was reported to the Home Office when he tried to explain that he was a victim of trafficking, notes that victims are unlikely to come forward when the threat of being reported and placed in immigration detention seems likely; “Victims are not going to report their trafficking or assist the police if this is what happens to them when they attempt to get help. They’re told by traffickers that the police will refer them to the Home Office and in many cases this is true.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Essex truck deaths: why are so many Chinese and Vietnamese being trafficked to the UK? (South China Morning Post) (30 October 2019)

Public law solicitor Shalini Patel is quoted in South China Morning Post’s article on the deaths of 39 people in a lorry in Essex, and the wider concerns on the rise in the number of people trafficked to the UK from China and Vietnam. Shalini notes that there are not enough convictions of traffickers; “We do not see enough convictions of traffickers for exploitation in brothels, nail bars, cannabis houses but the majority of the victims I represent have spent considerable time in detention centres after all that they have suffered at the hands of the traffickers. They are criminalised for being victims.” According to the Home Office, Chinese women are the largest group in female immigration detention with 420 detained in 2018, Shalini – who has represented numerous Chinese trafficking victims – explains how and why many come to the UK; “All of my Chinese clients have travelled on a plane to the UK once the loan sharks have obtained fake visas and passports for them. The cost of the journey is added to the vast amount of debt that they already owe and that they will be expected to pay back via services they are forced into on arrival and on route to the UK.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Essex lorry driver charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people (Channel 4 News) (28 October 2019)

Public law caseworker Karen Staunton speaks to Channel 4 News about the 39 people found dead inside a lorry trailer in Essex. A number of the deceased are believed to be Vietnamese nationals attempting to enter the UK. The police have requested that anyone with information to come forward but there is a fear amongst some communities that approaching the police may result in repercussions. Karen explained to Channel 4 News why undocumented migrants, and survivors are unable to self-report to the police. “There are young Vietnamese nationals found in a cannabis house, they will be locked in, they might be beaten, and they will be terrified. They will be found by the police who will say you are growing cannabis, therefore you are a criminal; also you don’t have leave to be in the UK so we are going to the Home Office.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Exclusive: first glimpse inside the First-tier Tribunal’s digital pilot appeals (Law Mostly) (28 October 2019)

Immigration solicitor Claire Ryan gives an exclusive interview to Law Mostly about the new digital appeals system being tested in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber). Claire outlines the goals of this pilot scheme which aims to deliver a simple, fairer and more accessible service, working as an online platform for case handling and management throughout the appeal process at the First-tier Tribunal. She explains; “The pilot aims to make everything much more straightforward, with better case handling and more communication between the parties. Lodging an appeal is now a simple tick box exercise which takes around five minutes.” Claire also highlights the key advantages the system offers to lawyers and clients; “Everything is online and there is no need to bring a paper bundle as the Tribunal have screens that laptops can be connected to and everyone is working from the same digital bundle. There is more time to prepare a case – a minimum of 42 days from lodging to upload a bundle with further flexibility if needed. Once a bundle is uploaded further evidence can be submitted if it becomes available.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Campaigners call for review of points-based visa system (Eastern Eye) (25 October 2019)

Business immigration director Tamana Aziz is quoted in Eastern Eye, giving her opinion on plans for a new Australian-style points-based visa system for migrants seeking to come to the UK after Brexit, as proposed by Home Secretary Priti Patel. Migrants moving to Britain will be encouraged to work in northern towns to boost economic growth there. Tamana comments; “The government’s current announcement that migrants and skilled workers will be encouraged to work in northern towns will help bring additional skills to the areas and will benefit economic growth. The home secretary has promised to assist those migrants moving to Britain if they are willing to settle outside of London.” However, Tamana stresses the importance of a review of the points-based system that has been proposed; “Although this news may assist many migrants and EU nationals after Brexit as competition in London is tough and limited job opportunities are available, the government will need to make the system clearer and easier, as points-based systems are flawed on a number of levels due to their complexity and, in places vagueness, ultimately meaning that they do not work.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

China-UK people trafficking often driven by debt, experts say (The Guardian) (25 October 2019)

The Guardian reports on the debt driven circumstances that could be indicative of a wider trafficking problem, sparked by the death of 39 people found in a lorry trailer in Essex. Various experts provide insight into the background of Chinese nationals who are often feeling from loan sharks or forced to work in the UK to pay off gambling debts. Public Law solicitor, Sulaiha Ali spoke of her experience representing Chinese nationals, commenting; “They may be picked up at the airport here and then taken straight to a brothel or restaurant where they are forced to work. Traffickers exploit them…they are often very fearful and distrustful of authority. Indicators of trafficking may be ignored by the Home Office and they end up in detention centres. Many are very traumatised.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Shalini Patel appears on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire and ITV News to discuss the deaths of 39 people in a lorry (Multiple Sources) (25 October 2019)

Public law solicitor Shalini Patel appeared on BBC London News and ITV News to give her professional opinion on the news that 39 people were found dead on a lorry in Essex. Shalini appeared on both the ITV News Weekday Teatime programme and BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme where she took part in an in-depth interview. Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire, Shalini – who has significant experience in representing Chinese victims of trafficking – explained how after accruing significant debt in China, the majority of the women she represents end up in the UK after being promised vast amounts of money; “They are offered vast amounts of money, they take the offer, they then can’t pay it back. They arrive in the UK and that is where they become victims of trafficking because they are sexually exploited…they’re working in brothels, restaurants, most of the time not paid. They are locked up for months or years on end before any help is found.” Shalini also discussed what she does for victims; “Most of our referrals are cases of historic trafficking…and ended up in detention centres. I will step in, and try and get them released from detention because it is not a suitable place for such vulnerable individuals. I will refer them to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and see them through the whole trafficking process until they are given some form of leave and recognised as victims of trafficking.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office forced to pay £25,000 in damages after unlawfully trying to deport trafficking victim (The Independent) (21 October 2019)

The Independent reports on a ruling by an immigration judge that the Home Office acted ‘disingenuously’ in rejecting its own finding that a Polish man had been a victim of forced labour in order to pursue his deportation. Public Law solicitor, Sumbul Phillips represented the man, who came to the UK from Poland in 2016. Under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), it was decided that there were reasonable grounds to believe the man was a victim of modern slavery, yet the Home Office maintained that he posed a ‘genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat’. The Home Office settled the case out of court, agreeing to pay the man £25,000 in damages. Sumbul commented: “The home secretary conclusively determined our client to be a victim of human trafficking and determined that he was forced into criminality by his traffickers. Yet he was unlawfully detained and almost removed. The judge saw through the home secretary’s disingenuous attempt to go behind her own findings in order to deport a confirmed victim of trafficking. The home secretary should answer for her unlawful and reprehensible conduct in this case.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Expert Views - Five years on, is the UK's landmark anti-slavery law fit for purpose? (Thomson Reuters Foundation) (18 October 2019)

Public law director Ahmed Aydeed gives his expert view on the success and failures of the Modern Slavery Act to Thomson Reuters. To mark Anti-Slavery Day in Britain, Thomson Reuters Foundation called on experts from across the sector for their views on the success and failures of the Modern Slavery Act. Five years ago Britain was hailed a global leader in the drive to end slavery. The Modern Slavery Act was passed to prosecute traffickers, protect vulnerable people, and compel large companies to declare how they avoid using forced labour. Whilst commendable, experts have noted that in reality, a limited awareness, lack of training, and minimalistic compliance has diminished Britain’s anti-slavery response. Birmingham-based public law director, Ahmed Aydeed, comments; “There is still a lack of understanding of the legislation and the government has failed, for four years now, to publish statutory guidance. The courts, in landmark decisions, have highlighted the importance of adequate support for modern slavery victims and the importance of assisting victims as soon as there is credible suspicion of their circumstances. It seems the courts appreciate our duties to modern slavery victims, enshrined within statute and international conventions, more than the government."  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

High Court says Home Office ‘unlawfully detained’ mentally ill man for five months (Morning Star) (16 October 2019)

The Morning Star reports on a High Court ruling claiming that the Home Office ‘unlawfully detained’ a mentally ill man in a bid to deport him. The ruling also states that the Home office were unreactive to medical evidence that the man was at risk of suicide. While his entire detention lasted for over two years, at least five months were unlawful and in breach of human rights law. Public law solicitor, Lewis Kett who is representing the man commented “There was mounting evidence of our client’s high risk of suicide, and that detention was causing him further harm, and yet the Home Office repeatedly decided to maintain his detention. The fact that he was detained for 28 months is wholly unacceptable.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Nearly all Home Office misconduct inquiries relate to immigration (The Guardian) (4 October 2019)

A freedom of information response obtained by The Guardian newspaper has revealed that of the 626 misconduct allegations investigated by the Home Office’s professional standards unit (PSU)in the last three years, 96.4% related to borders, immigration and citizenship, with only a small amount relating to other issues such as policing or counter-terrorism. Public law director,Toufique Hossain has been privy to some of the internal PSU reports as part of his legal challenges against the Home Office, comments; “Grave concerns are raised as to Home Office failings on a daily basis. A government body essentially investigating itself, put simply, will never hold itself accountable. The burden is very much placed on the individual under the Home Office’s control, more often than not with the assistance of publicly funded lawyers and NGOs, to ensure that the Home Office is held to account. Only through these mechanisms can vulnerable individuals access courts in order to vindicate their rights.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Asylum seeker denied cancer treatment by Home Office dies (The Guardian) (26 September 2019)

The Guardian reports on the sad news that Kelemua Mulat, an Ethiopian asylum seeker and client of Duncan Lewis has died aged 39. Kelemua was denied potentially-life saving cancer treatment by the Home Office as a result of a flawed policy on charging overseas visitors for NHS care. Her lawyer, Jeremy Bloom, trainee solicitor in the public law department is quoted; “Ms Mulat’s additional pain and suffering may have been avoided if the Home Office had provided accurate information to the hospital about her immigration status – or better yet, if hospitals were not compelled to carry out this discriminatory and unjust policy.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

UK deportation of three men halted after detention centre death (The Guardian) (18 September 2019)

The Guardian reports on how the deportation of three men from the UK to Nigeria was halted by the High Court on the basis that they may be able to provide evidence surrounding the death of a man held in Harmondsworth detention centre. Mr Justice Butler made an order preventing the three men from flying but refused to accede to the request for the order to be widened to others due to fly that may also have information on the death. Public law director Toufique Hossain and solicitor Jamie Bell, brought the legal challenge and commented; “The offer of condolences from the organisation in whose supposed ‘care’ a man died is void of any meaning. The Home Office is a removal machine that is now sweeping up potential key witnesses to its own neglect.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Law Society Excellence Awards Finalist Interview with Manjinder Kaur Atwal (11 September 2019)

Harrow-based housing director, Manjinder Kaur Atwal, was interviewed by the sponsors of the Law Society Excellence Awards’ 2019 Solicitor of the Year - Private Practice award following her shortlisting. In her interview, Manjinder discusses housing and property litigation practice, why she chose to work at Duncan Lewis, her goals for achieving a successful case outcome, and offers advice to future lawyers. On discussing what she enjoys most about working in housing and property litigation she commented; “Client interaction – I enjoy dealing with complex legal issues but simplifying them for clients and achieving a successful case outcome. I like to be challenged by the diverse issues of a case and I get personal satisfaction from ensuing that a client is in secure housing and not at risk of losing their home.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Failing innovator visa will cost UK economy: Experts (Eastern Eye) (6 September 2019)

Business immigration director Tamana Aziz gives her expert opinion to Eastern Eye regarding the new visa for overseas entrepreneurs to work in the UK. Experts along with Tamana have branded the visa ‘too strict’ and a ‘complete disaster’ and have argued that it risks discouraging talent from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Tamana comments; “Experienced business people have to secure an endorsement of their business idea by government-approved endorsement bodies prior to submitting an application for entry clearance. This new visa category does not seem to be business-friendly and is stricter than the previous Tier 1 entrepreneur route. As a business immigration specialist, I believe this new route will have an impact on attracting entrepreneurs from south Asia. They will surely choose a more predictable and sustainable soil where they –rather than a third-partner endorser – have control of their business idea. Further, the risk of a restrictive system for entrepreneurs is that it damages the UK’s hard-won reputation for openness and for welcoming businesses from Asia.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Calls for nationality profiling to stop sham marriages ‘very worrying’ (ITV News) (2 September 2019)

Public law caseworker Poppy Firmin is quoted in an article by ITV News regarding calls from MigrationWatch UK for the Home Office to adopt the practice of racial profiling in order to help detect sham marriages and prevent bogus weddings taking place. Poppy, along with a number of other immigration lawyers, expressed her concern at the idea; “They are subjecting genuine couples to really degrading questions. Any introduction of further measures is very worrying. It’s disappointing to see (suggestions there should be racial profiling) based on quite spurious research. It would be worrying if registrars were given free rein to racially profile everyone who comes in.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Asylum seekers are living in rat and cockroach infested ‘guest houses’ provided by Home Office contractor (Multiple Sources) (21 August 2019)

A number of sources have reported that asylum seekers are living in accommodation provided by the Home Office that is infested with rats, mice and cockroaches, with families of four being crammed into spaces so small that they barely have enough room to walk around. The Guardian showed footage of the conditions of the Maharaja Guest House in Southall, west London to a number of lawyers including public law director Toufique Hossain who commented; “These conditions are depraved. The secretary of state is the slum landlord-in-chief. We are talking about deeply traumatised people. They have seen and experienced horrors that they will never shake. And here they are, in the United Kingdom, made to sleep with cockroaches. It is inhuman and degrading.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office loses final bid to stop investigators probing G4S detention centre (Morning Star) (12 August 2019)

The Morning Star reports on the Home Office’s failure in their bid to challenge a High Court ruling on the terms on an investigation into the alleged abuse at Brook House immigration removal centre. Former detainees, MA and BB, successfully argued that a full independent investigation into the ‘systematic and institutional failures’ at Brook House was needed. Public law trainee solicitor Nicholas Hughes who is representing MA commented; “A thorough, independent and effective investigation into the culture of abuse in Brook House IRC, with the powers conferred under the Inquiries Act, is long overdue and essential to ensure that the horrific treatment of our client at the hands of G4S staff in Brook House is vital to ensure that lessons can be learned and to protect some of the most vulnerable individuals in society from further abuse.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Fahad Ansari takes part in Unreliable Evidence - 'Citizenship' (BBC Radio 4) (9 August 2019)

Immigration consultant Fahad Ansari participated in the BBC Radio 4 programme Unreliable Evidence hosted by Clive Anderson. The episode, entitled ‘Citizenship’, discusses whether the Home Office should have the power to take away the citizenship of someone born and brought up in Britain. Taking a closer look into the 104 deprivation of citizenship orders issues by the Home Office in 2017, the programme debates whether such deprivations are a vital for protecting the UK or a worrying move towards turning citizenship into a privilege rather than an inalienable right. Fahad argued that by revoking citizenship from people who have the right to citizenship in another country, the government is creating a two-tier system, where someone with family ties outside Britain can be treated differently to someone without them. His views were challenged by those of Lord Carlile who believes removing citizenship is a way of protecting the public. The full programme is available on the BBC Radio 4 website.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

'I'm a victim of slavery but I'm just seen as an immigration problem' (The Guardian) (1 August 2019)

Trainee solicitor Chloe Chiu’s client is featured in The Guardian. The client, Nancy Esiovwa, is a victim of slavery who was held as a slave in a family house in Bedfordshire after being trafficked to the UK from Nigeria. After being identified as a victim of slavery she was left without any support, became homeless and faced violence and assault. The Home Office turned down her application for asylum and refused to grant her leave to remain. She now lives in fear of immigration detention or being sent back to Nigeria the same country to which her traffickers, who have threatened to kill her, have returned. Esiovwa is taking the Home Office to court of its decision to deny her discretionary leave as a conclusive victim of trafficking, despite evidence that she has required on-going counselling, mental health services, and specialist support as a victim of modern slavery and sexual abuse. Chloe had main conduct of this case under the supervision of Vilash Gami and Zofia Duszynska.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office ‘illegally’ put trafficking victims in detention centres, report finds (The Independent) (30 July 2019)

An exclusive report in The Independent takes a deeper look into the accusation that the Home Office knowingly held victims of modern slavery in removal centres. Ministers are accused of prioritising immigration control over survivors’ right to support, breaching their responsibility under European law to assist them in their physical and psychological recovery. Duncan Lewis is among ten organisations that have announced the launch of a new taskforce seeking to end the detention of modern slavery victims and advocate for changes to be made to government policy. A joint statement read; “Members believe that immigration detention should play no part in a progressive and fair immigration system. Until this is realised, the Home Office must immediately strengthen and implement its own guidance to ensure that no victim of human trafficking is ever detained.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Enslaved on a British cannabis farm (The Guardian) (29 July 2019)

Public law director Ahmed Aydeed and caseworker Kate Macpherson are both featured in The Guardian’s long-read article ‘Enslaved on a British cannabis farm’ as part of the newspaper’s ‘Exploitation in focus’ series. The article tells the story of Duncan Lewis client Minh, a Vietnamese victim of trafficking who, after being enslaved on a cannabis farm in Chesterfield, was illegal detained in Morton Hall immigration detention centre where he was attacked and sexually assaulted. Kate details her first meeting with Minh and how it was apparent to her that he was in extreme distress, “He could barely communicate,” she recalls “…His mind was all over the place. He couldn’t make eye contact. He had completely withdrawn into himself.” Ahmed also discusses Morton Hall’s failure to investigate into the attack Minh experienced whilst in detention, “What they had on their hands was someone who had repeatedly disclosed that he had experienced rape, trauma, abduction, trafficking and torture,” he says “Their failure to take this assault seriously was at best incompetence and at worst an indication of the culture of disbelief and disregard for the detainees in their care.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Judgment - Re X [2019] EWHC 1990 (Fam) (Family Law Week) (25 July 2019)

Judgment has been handed down in Child Care Director Ravi Kaur Mahey’s Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Protection Order case. Family Law Week has published the full judgment on their website. The judgment allows X, who is at risk of FGM, to travel to Egypt to see her father for the very first time after a previously issued FGM Protection Order which prevents her parents from ‘removing, seeking to remove, or instructing or encouraging any other person to remove’ her from the jurisdiction of England and Wales until 2032 has been temporarily lifted, something that will have a significant impact on the ability for the child and her parents to have a positive family life together.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office accused of covering up plight of hundreds of trafficking victims wrongly detained in immigration centres (Independent) (17 July 2019)

Public law solicitor Sulaiha Ali is quoted in an Independent exclusive on the lack of transparency of the Home Office after it releases numbers of victims detained in removal centres despite previously and repeatedly claiming that there was ‘no central record of those figures’. According to the Independent figures obtained through a freedom of information (FoI) request revealed that 507 people who had been enslaved or trafficked were detained under immigration powers in 2018, despite Home Office guidance that this group should not be placed in detention. Sulaiha discussed how she and her colleagues continuously encountered cases where there were “overwhelming” indicators of trafficking, but that these were often overlooked or not communicated to officials. “The lack of transparency surrounding the detention of potential victims of trafficking is deeply concerning. The numbers now revealed reflect our concerns that the Home Office is continuing to detain vulnerable individuals in breach of its own policy,” she said. “This illustrates the serious failings by the Home Office to promptly identify victims of trafficking and the callous way in which they detain.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Legal aid ‘heroes’ honoured at special ceremony (The Law Society Gazette) (12 July 2019)

The Law Gazette has reported on the recent Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year (LALY) awards that took place on Wednesday night (10th July). Duncan Lewis public law solicitor Raja Rajeswaran Uruthiravinayagan deservedly won the Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year – Public Law award. The Gazette reported; "Duncan Lewis solicitor Raja Rajeswaran Uruthiravinayagan, who won the public law award, said he was surprised that he was shortlisted," adding “Uruthiravinayagan had to leave Sri Lanka due to the civil war when he was 13 and said that was the reason he specialised in human rights law.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Chinese women being trafficked to UK suffer further harm as detention numbers nearly double (Multiple Sources) (9 July 2019)

Public law solicitor Shalini Patel’s work with Women for Refugee Work (WFRW) has been reported on in multiple news outlets including the Independent and The Mirror. According to the report by WFRW – the first of its kind – has found that the Home Office is breaking its own policies and locking up Chinese trafficking survivors in Yarl’s Wood detention centre despite the abuse and trauma they have suffered whilst being trafficked into sex or labour exploitation. Shalini commented on the“…clear incompetence and sheer disregard” for the safety of those “who have already been subjected to such horrendous sexual abuse and exploitation” adding “These women are by no means fit for detention but despite this fact they are detained for months at a time with no adequate support.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Legal aid’s 2019 hall of fame (Legal Action Group) (8 July 2019)

The access to justice charity, Legal Action Group (LAG), has unveiled the finalists of the 2019 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards. Our solicitors Raja Rajeswaran Uruthiravinayagan and Maria Petrova-Collins are both shortlisted and their bios are featured in the article. Raja, shortlisted for the public law lawyer of the year and is described as “…dedicated to securing access to justice for vulnerable immigrants with irregular immigration status, who are often victims of torture, abuse and trafficking.” Maria’s shortlisting is for legal aid newcomer and is described as someone who “…inspires everyone around her with her can-do attitude and determination to hold the Home Office accountable.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Four LGBT Syrian refugees arrive in UK in time for Pride (Multiple sources) (8 July 2019)

A number of media outlets including The Guardian, Pink News and the Deccan Chronicle have reported that four LGBT Syrian refugees arrived in London in time for the Pride celebrations following their two year wait to be airlifted to safety. The four men are the first of 15 LGBT Syrian refugees expected to arrive in the United Kingdom after being stranded in Turkey earlier this year. The Home Office accepted all of the refugees onto a resettlement scheme which avoided the need for them to go through the lengthy asylum process; however, instead of being fast-tracked to the UK, they were made to wait. Public law director Toufique Hossain and solicitor Sheroy Zaq launched legal action against the Home Office, claiming the men had been abandoned to a life of danger in Turkey despite promises for them to be quickly brought to safety in the UK. They commented; “These men have been forced to conceal an enormous part of their identity, not just in their country of origin but also in Turkey. The detriment they suffered as a result of their sexuality in Turkey simply could not go on any longer; we had to ensure that their resettlement was expedited through legal channels. We are elated that they will at last be able to be open about their sexuality in all walks of life, just in time for Pride.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office failures to hand over files causing people to be wrongly detained and deported (Independent) (5 July 2019)

Public law director Toufique Hossain is quoted in the Independent’s article regarding the Home Office preventing access to justice because it is routinely failing to respond to requests to hand over files containing immigration histories of people targeted by immigration enforcement, leaving them unable to challenge its decisions and resulting in them being wrongly detained or even deported. Toufique described obtaining SARs (subject access requests) from the Home Office as an uphill battle and commented; “It takes lawyers being able to threaten the Home Office with judicial review proceedings to get them to do anything. The vast majority of people don’t have lawyers who can do that. It’s time-consuming and costly. This creates an unacceptable risk of delay and risks people being effectively denied access to justice. The court needs to give guidance on this or establish some guidance, because the Home Office are not sticking to their own rules. They’re continuously breaking them.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office to lift cap on ‘inadequate’ help for trafficking victims (Independent) (2 July 2019)

Public law director Ahmed Aydeed is quoted in the Independent discussing the Home Office’s recent concession that their 45-day policy, which limits support for victims of trafficking to just six weeks, is unlawful and incompatible with international standards. Ahmed represented two clients in a recent challenge to the Home Office’s policy which brought about the Home Office’s move to create a new ‘needs-based system’ that would not restrict support by any length of time. Ahmed said that he was glad the legal challenge has forced the Home Office to withdraw its current policy, but also highlighted that the government had; “…been failing for years in its legal obligation to support victims of trafficking.” He also added; “It is beyond belief that the home secretary has been applying this policy for years, only now accepting that the law requires a needs-based system, not delimited by time alone. I’m saddened by the number of victims that have lost vital support over the years, when they so desperately needed it.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office pay out £45k over illegal detention of trafficked man (The Lincolnite) (1 July 2019)

The Lincolnite has reported on the case involving our client, a victim of trafficking known as NN, who received a £45,000 payout from the Home Office after he was unlawfully detained for over five months following the Home Office mistaking him for another man who had been deported from the UK in 2011. The Lincolnite reports; “The Home Office maintained NN and T were the same person, despite staff at Morton Hall comparing photos and informing them they had noticed differences between the two men. After being assaulted in the detention centre NN was identified as an adult at risk and potential victim of torture. He should have been released under Home Office guidelines, but the Home Office used the details of T’s case to argue that detention should continue. Law firm Duncan Lewis took on NN’s case and threatened legal action after he had been in detention for three months. He was placed into safe house accommodation after being identified as a potential victim of slavery and released from detention in July 2018.The Home Office accepted they had made a mistake a month later, but reportedly continued to process NN’s trafficking claim under T’s name.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office payout for trafficked man detained in mistaken identity mix-up (The Guardian) (28 June 2019)

The Guardian reports on our case involving NN a victim of trafficking who was unlawfully detained for over five months after the Home Office failed to recognise him as a victim of trafficking and mistook him for another man who had previously been deported. NN was unlawfully detained at Morton Hall immigration removal centre for over five months after the Home Office refused to accept that he was not another Vietnamese national, only agreeing to carry out fingerprint tests after Duncan Lewis threatened them with legal action. The Home Office will now pay £45,000 in compensation to the victim for his illegal detainment. Public law director Ahmed Aydeed, who is representing NN commented; “NN was detained by his traffickers, he was stripped of his identity and was subjected to physical and psychological abuse. He finally escaped his captors only to have his identity stripped by the home secretary and [be] subjected yet again to false imprisonment. NN’s unwavering determination to regain his identity and liberty is inspirational, but there is something fundamentally wrong with our system if this is the path victims have to go through to access justice.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Incompetence: Theresa May's Government fails to Deal with Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery (RT TV) (26 June 2019)

Public law solicitor Shalini Patel was interviewed on RT TV’s ‘Going Underground’ programme, discussing the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking, incompetency at the Home Office, and the low standards for the Home Office’s trafficking department. On discussing whether Theresa May’s government has done enough to tackle the burning injustice of modern slavery Shalini commented; “…a lot more needs to be done…I’ve got clients who are victims of trafficking who have been subjected to horrendous decision-making by the Home Office, cases aren’t looked at on a case-by-case basis and there’s a sheer disregard and incompetence that I am seeing on every single case.” Shalini further spoke about the lack of experience and expertise in the Home Office’s trafficking department; “…there is such incompetency at the Home Office…they were recruiting for the trafficking unit at minimum wage, no experience required, on a six month contract. I don’t think six months is enough to even train somebody on how to deal with a trafficking case because they are all so complex and different.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Court rules in favour of mother declared intentionally homeless (RT TV) (19 June 2019)

Caseworker Laura McDonald was interviewed on RT TV discussing how the Supreme Court overturned Birmingham City Council’s decision that a single mother was intentionally homeless due to her inability to pay rent. The Supreme Court ruled that Birmingham City Council was wrong to find that a woman who lost her home due to rent arrears was intentionally homeless because she didn’t use her other benefits to top up the shortfall in her housing benefit. Laura discussed in-depth the situation commenting; “…the problem is people are being asked in this current situation where there are these local housing allowances which put a cap on how much housing benefit people can be given, people are forced to make a decision between paying for their accommodation and paying for food.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office sending modern slavery victims back to addresses where they were abused (Independent) (13 June 2019)

The front page of the Independent reports that the Home Office’s disregard for victims of trafficking who are being released from immigration detention is resulting in them returning to the addresses where they were enslaved and abused due to safe housing not being arranged for victims on their release. Shalini Patel comments on the case of her client, a Chinese woman known as H who was released from Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre and, having nowhere to go, was forced to return to the address where she had been exploited as a sex slave. When Shalini contacted the Salvation Army in order for H to receive her entitled support, they informed her that they had no record of H and they submitted a complaint to the Home Office. Shalini commented that the Home Office was “…yet another example of the complete lack of empathy for their cases and what they have been through.” adding; “There is clear incompetence and sheer disregard for the safety of these women who have already been subjected to such horrendous sexual abuse and exploitation.”  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Trouble in Paradise (University of Worcester) (12 June 2019)

Immigration director Gabor Nagy is featured in an article on the University of Worcester’s website in relation to our client , a St Lucian man, and his UK asylum claim in the grounds of his sexuality. The article, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ describes how in 2017, the Home Office rejected the St Lucian man’s asylum request citing insufficient evidence of persecution of gay men in St Lucia, despite the fact that same-sex activity is illegal on the island and homophobic discrimination is not, resulting in those belonging to the LGBT community living in fear of violence and persecution. The article further highlights how Duncan Lewis contacted Dr Berenice Mahoney, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Worcester to provide an expert witness report in support of the case.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Trouble in Paradise (University of Worcester) (12 June 2019)

Immigration director Gabor Nagy is featured in an article on the University of Worcester’s website in relation to our client , a St Lucian man, and his UK asylum claim in the grounds of his sexuality. The article, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ describes how in 2017, the Home Office rejected the St Lucian man’s asylum request citing insufficient evidence of persecution of gay men in St Lucia, despite the fact that same-sex activity is illegal on the island and homophobic discrimination is not, resulting in those belonging to the LGBT community living in fear of violence and persecution. The article further highlights how Duncan Lewis contacted Dr Berenice Mahoney, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Worcester to provide an expert witness report in support of the case.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Former England boxer released from immigration centre (The Guardian) (6 June 2019)

Duncan Lewis’ client Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, a boxer who has represented England six times at amateur level, has been released from immigration detention after legal action was threatened over his unlawful detention. The 31 year old, who was brought to the UK from Nigeria as a child, was arrested and sent to Brook House immigration removal centre last month. It is the second time he has been detained, after being detained in 2017 at Tinsley House where he was identified as an adult ‘at risk’ on mental health grounds. Ahmed Aydeed, part of the Duncan Lewis team representing Fawaz, told The Guardian that the decision to detain him a second time was baseless; “Whilst in immigration detention in 2017, the Home Office accepted that our client was an ‘at risk’ adult, yet they arrested and detained him again for an interview that could have been done whilst he was at liberty. They did this knowing that detention was likely to have a severely detrimental effect on his mental health. It is a callous disregard for someone’s health and right to liberty.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

How to avoid getting detained at the airport (Independent) (31 May 2019)

Immigration director Gabor Nagy is featured in the Independent’s article 'How to avoid getting detained at the airport.' Looking into the common reasons people are being stopped, questioned and detained at airports, the article offers advice as to what to do if you are searched as a law-abiding traveller and how to avoid unnecessary delays. Gabor explains why some people are stopped at airports; “In customs cases the most common reasons are drug related offences that I come across, for example the passenger is suspected to be a drug mule…the indicators I have seen through perusal of officers’ handbook notes vary. Some reveal behavioural indicators – a passenger being evasive, being inconsistent in their answers or sweating profusely.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Immigration detainees paid £1 per hour case taken to Court of Appeal (RT News) (30 May 2019)

Public law solicitor Philip Armitage appeared on RT News recently discussing immigration detainees being paid £1 per hour for work carried out whilst in detention. Philip explained the key difference between the rates of pay in prisons and detention centres; “The difference between prisons and detention centres is that prisons have no cap on the amount that prisoners can be paid. Prisoners can earn as much money as the individual prison is willing to pay…that cannot happen in detention centres because the Home Office have set a blanket policy that detainees can only be paid a maximum of £1 per hour.” Philip also outlined Duncan Lewis’ aim in taking the matter to the Court of Appeal; “…what we are asking for in our court case is to get the current pay regime to be held to be unlawful and then stop that maximum rate which stops tipping, stops being able to give extra work, stops being able to reward good work, it’s completely arbitrary and the rate hasn’t been changed for nearly ten years.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

A day in the life of…Emine Mehmet (LexisNexis) (28 May 2019)

Family and Childcare Director Emine Mehmet is the subject of the latest LexisNexis ‘A day in the life of…’ featurette, part of a series that aims to ‘…provide a glimpse into the working day of a range of people involved with the family justice system’. Emine discusses everything from what keeps her motivated, and what she would change about the family justice system to her penchant for ‘very, very strong’ coffee and her varied taste in music.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

The Times’ Lawyer of the Week: Public Law Solicitor Sulaiha Ali (The Times) (16 May 2019)

We are proud to announce that Public Law Supervisor and Solicitor Sulaiha Ali based in our Harrow office, has been named The Times’ Lawyer of the Week for her WW case. In what is believed to be the first successful case of its kind, Mr Justice Lane and Upper Tribunal Judge O’Connor have directed the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) to fund and facilitate the return of our client (WW) to the United Kingdom, in circumstances where he had been denied the opportunity to obtain the ‘best evidence’ relating to the best interests of his British children in his human rights appeal. Sulaiha commented on her achievement;“It is an absolute honour to have been chosen by the Times as Lawyer of the Week. I am particularly grateful that our work under legal aid has been recognised for having profound implications for a wider cohort of people, having been one of the first cases following the Supreme Court judgment in Kiarie and Byndloss to order the bring back of an individual to the UK. I share this recognition with not only counsel and my colleague Philip Armitage who assisted in this case, but also with my fellow colleagues who undertake complex litigation on a daily basis in order to challenge the injustices that our clients face in the current political climate.” Read the full article here   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Public Law Solicitor Hannah Baynes discusses her client’s halted deportation (Multiple Sources) (15 May 2019)

Hannah Baynes spoke to both The Guardian and RT UK News about her client’s recent deportation matter. Najat Ibrahim Ismail, was prosecuted for fraud and for assisting unlawful entry after he brought his baby niece to Britain in what he says was an attempt to save the child’s life after she suffered serious burns whilst at a French refugee camp. After judicial review proceedings were issued on Friday 3 May to challenge the decision of the Home Office to deport the client to Iraq, a stay on removal was initially refused on the papers. However, following an urgent application for a hearing to be listed to reconsider whether a stay should be granted, the client’s deportation to Iraq was unexpectedly halted by the Home Office without a clear explanation, leaving him uncertain about his future. The Home Office confirmed to us that they still intended to deport the client, and so it was clear that the court proceedings were not over. In a televised interview with RT News Hannah commented; “In Najat's case he does have a family in the UK, a British wife and three children who are British, and our view is that if he was sent back to Iraq there is a possibility that they would not be able to continue in a relationship with him and that would have a serious impact on his children and on his wife...He's been in the UK since 2004 and in that time he has established a strong connection to the UK. He's not got a large family network back in Iraq who would be able to welcome him back. Don't forget he claimed asylum here, he fears harm if he goes back and he is also a victim of torture. So there is a danger if he goes back that he may suffer harm himself.” Following this, on 7 May 2019 the client was served with directions for his deportation on 10 May 2019. After a stay on the client’s deportation was refused by the Upper Tribunal following an urgent hearing, an application was filed with the Court of Appeal for an order to stop the client’s deportation. Less than 90 minutes prior to the flight, the client's deportation was then halted for the third time in a fortnight on 10th May as a result of a last minute Court of Appeal order. The Guardian reports that an expert medical report concluded that the client was at immediate risk of suicide. “We have medical evidence of serious concerns about his fitness to fly and serious risk of suicide. I was extremely concerned about the possible consequences if our client had been removed to Iraq today, particularly as the Home Office disclosed that they proposed to use a waist restraint belt when removing him.” Hannah commented.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office to scrap asylum claims processing target (The Guardian and RightsInfo) (15 May 2019)

Hannah Baynes has been featured in The Guardian and RightInfo discussing the recent announcement that the Home Office plans to scrap its target of processing asylum claims within six months. In 2014 the Home Office introduced a policy aiming to process 98% of claims within six months. Despite this policy, applications have become lengthier each year with Refugee Action revealing that 14,603 people waiting longer than six months for their application to be processed, a 25% increase between 2016 and 2017. In the worst known delayed case, an applicant waited for 26 years and one month. Human rights lawyers are concerned that the decision to scrap the current target could lead to further delays for vulnerable asylum seekers. Hannah comments;“We very regularly see asylum seekers who wait over six months for an initial decision. In many cases, we have no option but to resort to issuing judicial review proceedings to challenge the delay in a decision being made in a client’s asylum claim. I am concerned about the impact on clients’ health if the Home Office is planning to abandon its current target of six months for initial decisions in asylum claims. Such a practice creates uncertainty and means that those seeking asylum in the UK are unable to move on with their lives. I also consider that this will result in the courts’ time and public funds being used up when judicial review proceedings are issued to challenge the delay in decisions being made in clients’ asylum claims.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Public Law Caseworker Rebecca Carr discusses legal aid on talkRADIO (talkRADIO) (15 May 2019)

Public Law Caseworker Rebecca Carr was featured on talkRADIO’s Saturday Breakfast with Penny Smith programme to share her views on legal aid. Questioned by the hosts on a number legal aid related matters Rebecca explained the issues surrounding the cuts to legal aid. “Huge areas of law have been taken out of the scope of legal aid in key areas such as welfare, housing, family, and immigration, meaning people who were previously eligible for legal aid are now in a situation where they're either not bringing their cases to court or in a lot of cases [are] representing themselves.” Rebecca also highlighted how representing oneself in court is not a suitable alternative for those who are unable to access legal aid; “When you’re going to court, whoever you're up against will have the opportunity to access a lawyer who will represent them at the highest level...these are already people in a position of vulnerability added to that they're being faced with opposition having all the resources at their disposal. That is leading to a very unequal situation which undermines the whole process of a fair court. [Legal aid] guarantees you access to any lawyer you want...that ensures you have an equal chance of representing yourself fairly.” She commented.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

High court suspends Home Office policy limiting support for slavery victims (The Guardian, The Sun & Reuters) (10 May 2019)

The Guardian, the Sun & Reuters were some of the news outlets who reported on our challenge against the Home Secretary’s policy limiting support for trafficking victims. The High Court granted our application for general relief, suspending the Home Office policy that cuts all statutory support to victims of slavery in the UK after six weeks of victims having been formally identified as victims, ruling that it risks causing ‘irreparable harm” to victims.” Under the Modern Slavery Act, the Home Office is required to provide safe housing, counselling and financial support for 45 days to people who have been formally identified as victims of slavery or trafficking. Duncan Lewis challenged the 45-day policy in court; Public Law Director Ahmed Aydeed commented; “We’re really happy no one else will be left at the mercy of the Home Secretary’s 45-day cliff-edge drop in support. Recovery is a vital form of relief for a trafficked and enslaved person, and we have a duty to assist victims in their physical, psychological and social recovery. Without this support, victims are left at an enhanced risk of re-trafficking and enslavement. There is no clinical nor logical basis to limit support to 45 days after they’ve been formally identified as victims.” Caseworker Harvey Slade, who is representing two victims of slavery added; “It is vital that all victims of trafficking and slavery continue receiving support and assistance on the basis of need.” Lord McColl – who put forward a proposed private members Bill demanding support to be extended to a year – spoke following the judgment; “I’m really delighted the Court is looking into this and that permission has been given for a judicial review. All the evidence I’ve seen is that victims need more support than the current 45-day move- on period. I introduced my Bill to try to improve what is available, and I am pleased that it has is backed by so many victim support charities. Now the Government should back my Bill to guarantee victims across England and Wales a full 12 months of support.” Iain Duncan Smith, MP, hailed the outcome as having a “…transformative effect on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.” Read more…  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Child trafficking victim wins compensation from UK government over rape attempt (The Guardian and RightsInfo) (10 May 2019)

A child trafficking victim has won £85,000 in compensation from the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice after he was sexually assaulted and illegally detained at Morton Hall immigration centre. The Home Office must pay £85,000 to a Vietnamese national whose fellow inmate attempted to rape him whilst he was being unlawfully detained. Initially Morton Hall immigration detention centre did not regard the attempted rape as a serious incident, claiming the victim was not affected by the attack, only investigating the incident after Duncan Lewis threatened legal action. Director Ahmed Aydeed is quoted: “Our client was a heartbeat away from being removed unlawfully by the home secretary, after he was falsely imprisoned for a year and subjected to sexual assault at Morton Hall immigration detention centre, these horrific immigration detention centres deprive people of their liberty, strip them of their humanity and expose them to further abuse. They have no basis in a civilised society, and people will continue to suffer in them until the nation wakes up to the injustice of immigration detention.” Read more…  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Iraqi who brought baby to UK has deportation halted minutes before flight (Multiple sources) (10 May 2019)

Public Law solicitor Hannah Baynes has been featured in multiple media outlets regarding her client’s deportation to Iraq being halted at the last minute. A man who brought his baby niece to Britain in the back of his car from a French refugee camp after she sustained serious burns has had his deportation halted at the last minute by the Home Office. Najat Ibrahim Ismail, an Iraqi-Kurd, was prosecuted for fraud and assisting unlawful entry after he brought his then seven month old niece and other family members to the UK in January 2016 in what he says was an attempt to save the child’s life. Najat has been in the UK since 2004 and has a British wife and three British children here. An emergency court application was rejected by the Upper Tribunal yet his deportation was unexpectedly deferred by the Home Office. Although the deportation was halted, his legal battle is continues and the client has now received new removal directions for Friday 10 May, which his lawyers intend to challenge. Hannah – who along with Helen Baron is handling the case - is quoted as saying; “This is certainly by no means over but we are very happy to have this reprieve. It was very last minute and we have not been given a clear indication why the deportation was halted. We know we still have a long road ahead and we are still going on with the legal case.” Read more…  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Syrian LGBT refugees say UK Home Office has ‘abandoned’ them to danger in Turkey (Multiple sources) (7 May 2019)

Numerous media outlets have commented on the case of LGBT Syrian refugees who are stranded in Turkey. Duncan Lewis are representing thirteen LGBT Syrian refugees who are launching a legal challenge against the Home Office claiming they have been abandoned to a life of danger in Turkey despite promises to bring them to safety in the UK. Although the Home Office accepted all 15 onto a refugee resettlement scheme, they are still waiting to be airlifted to safety two years after applying for the scheme. Whilst same-sex marriages are legal in Turkey, homophobic attacks are common and many LGBT refugees have reported being pelted by rocks, followed in the street and attacked. Many have been forced to live in hiding as a result. Duncan Lewis has sent a letter on their behalf to the Home Office explaining the discrimination the refugees have faced. Public Law Director Toufique Hossain and Solicitor Sheroy Zaq who are representing 13 refugees along with Azadeh Goodarzi, Isabella Kirwan, and Georgia Banks. Sheroy is quoted; “We met these brave individuals in Istanbul. Having fled their homes in Syria, their hope was finally for a life where they could be themselves and live freely. Their stories are truly heart-breaking. We really do hope that the Home Office expedites these applications without the need for further litigation. They’ve known of the urgency for quite some time. They must act swiftly.” Read more…  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Couples face 'insulting' checks in sham marriage crackdown (The Guardian) (7 May 2019)

The Guardian reveals that genuine couples are being subjected to insulting checks as part of a Home Office crackdown on sham marriages. Couples and lawyers are reporting wedding ceremonies being interrupted so that the Home Office can question people about their sex lives and dawn raids are being carried out to find out if couples were sharing a bed. The incidents are part of a government attempt to make it more difficult for migrants to wed in the UK, in order to prevent people using marriage to UK or EU citizens as a means to remain in the country. Duncan Lewis caseworker Poppy Firmin has commented on the gruelling checks; “Many people go through the asylum process unrepresented. In the meantime you can’t work, you often can’t study, and then you may or may not be permitted to marry. Or you may be detained after your marriage ceremony is gate-crashed by Home Office officials. It’s very degrading.” Read more…  Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

‘Make reciprocity the law’ (Eastern Eye) (12 April 2019)

Eastern Eye has reported on Lord Karan Bilimoria’s comments in the House of Lords in March. He has highlighted to fact that foreign lawyers and barristers are not permitted to practice in India, causing problems for UK legal practitioners providing advice, “not just to British companies in India, but also to Indian companies”, which he argues is “a huge loss for India and our British legal services.” Significantly, it is thought that India will become a prominent market for the UK once Britain leaves the European Union. In response, Tamana Aziz, who is a director in our Business Immigration department, states: “As we are heading towards Brexit, it is vital for the UK to have a stabilised economy. With a number of UK companies operating in India, it is important that UK lawyers are given permission to practise in India so they can advise their clients on foreign law on a temporary and casual basis. It is also vital for international commercial arbitration, which involves a party which is not Indian and law that may be foreign. If someone wants to practise Indian law in the UK, they can do so by setting up an office here. We are open to Indian lawyers practising in the UK, therefore our lawyers should be given similar opportunities in India.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Developer takes Camden council to Court of Appeal; Appeal could pave the way for more CIL disputes (Property Week) (9 April 2019)

Property Week have reported on the case of R (Giordano Limited) v London Borough of Camden - the first ever Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) dispute brought to the Court of Appeal. The Appellant instructed director James Packer and solicitor Kate Newman, both of Duncan Lewis’ public law department, to represent them in challenging Camden council's imposition of a CIL charge of £547,000 for the redevelopment of a warehouse into a mixed-use scheme. With the hearing scheduled for July 2019, many anticipate that this appeal will be the first of many to address issues with CIL legislation. James has commented on the hefty bill issued by Camden council: “The entire purpose of the CIL regime is that the additional costs incurred in supporting a proposed development of an area can be funded by owners or developers of land. That is a laudable purpose. However, in this particular instance, planning permission for residential development was granted before the CIL regime was introduced, and the Council are arguing that CIL can be imposed simply because the developer is now proposing to reduce the number of units that it constructs (though this would not alter either the use class or the floorspace of the development), while accepting that no CIL at all would be payable if the developer continued with its original plans. As the developer’s revision to its plans would not in any way augment the burden on local infrastructure, it is hard to see why CIL should be applied. Further, the logic of the High Court decision would mean that whether or not CIL was payable in these circumstances would turn on the exact physical state of the building the day before the planning application is considered, which we consider to be not only mistaken in law, but also unworkable in practice, given that these applications are not considered according to a set timetable.” Since CIL is a voluntary tax that councils can choose to impose, it is hoped that cases like this will pave the way to providing greater clarity on when the tax should be applied.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Asylum claim lodged for Duncan Lewis client who fears he will suffer serious human rights violations should he be deported to Democratic Republic of Congo (The Guardian) (9 April 2019)

The Guardian has revealed that officials at the Home Office have been trying to persuade their Foreign Office colleagues to publically say that it is safe to return people to the Democratic Republic of Congo despite it having one of the worst human rights records in the world. Emails obtained by the human rights organisation Justice First, show that the Home Office has requested that officials at the British embassy in the DRC capital of Kinshasa issue a statement saying that there is no information that people are being persecuted after returning to the DRC from the UK. Obtained evidence shows that those deported from the UK to the DRC suffered ill-treatment including imprisonment, torture and disappearance. Two men threatened with deportation are now at risk, including Thierry Mpia, whose solicitor Cyrielle Vallet-Simond of the Duncan Lewis Public Law team, lodged an asylum claim two weeks ago in light of the Unsafe Return III report by Justice First.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Duncan Lewis’ client who fled to UK as child has deportation to DRC halted (Guardian and i News) (8 April 2019)

The Guardian and i News have reported on the case of a former unaccompanied minor who came to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when he was 11 after his father was murdered. Following a deportation attempt by the Home Office, Toufique Hossain and Cyrielle Vallet-Simond, both of the Public Law team, have successfully had this client’s removal halted. As a result of our representation, the client, Mr Bazaboko, has been served with a stay of execution pending a decision on whether he will be given leave to remain in the UK. Any attempt by the Home Office to remove a foreign national must take into account the prospect of the safe return of someone who they had previously granted international protection. The DRC has a very high rate of torture and rape recorded in the Human Rights Watch 2019 World Report, with attacks on opposition supporters, peaceful protesters and human rights activists frequently taking place. Mr Bazaboko fears for his life if he was to return to the DRC. Toufique, who continues to act on his behalf, has stated: “We are very concerned that despite the new evidence of persecution of people returned to DRC the Home Office is continuing to try to remove people there.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office limit on support for slavery victims may be unlawful, court rules (Guardian) (4 April 2019)

Following our challenge to the restrictions applied to support afforded to victims of slavery post-identification, a High Court Judge has ruled that the 45-day limit on support must immediately be extended. At present, specialist support provided to victims of trafficking, including safe house accommodation, assistance from a support worker and specific monetary support, is limited to 45 days post a positive conclusive grounds decision confirming that the individual is a victim of modern slavery. Ahmed Aydeed, who is leading the legal team acting in this challenge, has stated “At the moment we have 14 or 15 clients who have gone through the often very traumatic process of being identified as a victim of slavery, which can often take months, and then six weeks after they get this decision are told that all their specialist support is ending, they must leave their safe house accommodation, and will no longer have contact with their support worker.” He went on to say “This is not only incredibly traumatising for people who have already suffered horrendous exploitation and psychological abuse in the UK but also puts them at an enhanced risk of being re-trafficked. The government is failing in its legal obligation to support victims of modern slavery.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) life (Local Government Lawyer) (27 March 2019)

When discussing the issues with the ‘confusing and limited nature of any right to appeal’ in relation to the Community Infrastructure Levy regime, the Local Government Lawyer makes reference to one of Duncan Lewis’ cases, R (Giordano Limited) v London Borough of Camden. Specifically, it is highlighted as ‘the third High Court ruling in relation to CIL liability issues’, where the claimant sought to challenge the London Borough of Camden’s decision not to apply a statutory deduction to the Community Infrastructure Levy resulting in Giordano Ltd being liable for over half a million pounds. Whilst, in this judgment, the judge found it in favour of the local authority, the claimant is seeking permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. It is anticipated that if it succeeds in gaining permission to appeal that this case will provide the first opportunity for the Court of Appeal to consider the interpretation of any part of the CIL regime. James Packer is instructed as the lead solicitor handling this case, with Kate Newman, Courtney Smith and Nivi Kanel assisting.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

First slavery 'super-complaint' accuses police of fuelling victims' trauma (Guardian) (26 March 2019)

The Guardian have reported on the ‘super-complaint’ brought by Hestia on behalf of victims of modern slavery being failed by the police, who, instead of referring their case through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), are treating them as immigration absconders. This is an issue which Duncan Lewis has encountered when instructed by clients who present with clear indicators of a history of trafficking and/or modern slavery; many are too afraid to go to the police and report their traffickers because of the treatment that self-reporters are being subject to when they come forward. A team of solicitors based in our Birmingham branch are challenging this practice, including caseworker Karen Staunton, who has commented: “In almost all of these cases, the police completely ignore any trafficking indicators and focus on them instead as immigration absconders…In one instance, one of our clients self-reported to a police station saying that he had been trafficked to the UK and forced to work. He was not referred into the national referral mechanism, which identifies and provides support to potential victims of slavery, but was instead referred to immigration enforcement, and shipped off to detention the next day.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

UK immigration policy: restrictions on asylum seekers’ right to study (Forced Migration Review) (25 March 2019)

Helen Baron, a trainee solicitor in our public law team, has been published in the Forced Migration Review’s 60th issue this month, ‘Education: needs, rights and access in displacement’, discussing the bail study restrictions placed on asylum seekers following the changes to immigration legislation which came into force in January 2018. Helen explains how it quickly became apparent that asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their asylum claim were no longer permitted to study under these amended bail conditions; to do so in breach of their conditions risked negatively affecting their claims. The bail conditions were justified as a way of, ‘maintaining contact with individuals while their asylum claims are being processed and reducing the risk of individuals absconding.’ However, it is clear that the restriction did little to maintain contact, but prevented many asylum seekers who were at the time either studying, completing exams or about to begin a course from doing so. Helen explains that clients ‘Sharif, Henry and Farooq were placed in a terrible position, caught between ceasing their studies – and so losing their local authority support (including accommodation) – or continuing to study, potentially breaching their bail conditions. Mary was deeply concerned that the courses she had been enrolled on as part of her recovery would be considered ‘study’. Mustafa and Kit had to withdraw from their ESOL courses, while Josie and Ali had their o?ers to study withdrawn by the university.’* As part of the legal team at Duncan Lewis who have been challenging the restrictions placed on asylum seekers’ right to study (read more on this here), Helen has seen how immovable the Home Office have been and that it was only after pressure from campaigners, asylum caseworkers and support workers that the Home Office responded by sending out forms ‘to identify those to whom the study condition had been applied erroneously’. Despite this effort, there still remain many who are affected by this legislation who continue to be referred to Duncan Lewis. *The clients names have been changed to protect their identity.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Munby: State 'washed its hands' of couple branded bigamists after court failures (Law Society Gazette) (25 March 2019)

The Law Society Gazette has written on the recent case of the former-spouses who were at risk of being named bigamists due to the fact that an administrative error threatened to invalidate the decree absolute they received in 2014. Both remarried after they attained the decree they thought finalised their divorce. However district judges allowed an error to slip by when the pair made their application for a divorce on the basis that they had been separated for 2 years when in actual fact they had only been married for 22 months. It was then district judge Middleton-Roy’s decision to amend the reason for divorce in retrospect in an attempt to rectify the mistake, which prompted the Queen’s Proctor to call this out as an error in itself and that the divorce should be named void. When bringing this case to retired family division president sitting as High Court Judge, Sir James Munby, the question was posed: is the divorce void or is it voidable as a result of these errors? In M v P [2019], he ruled in favour of naming it voidable which does not invalidate the divorce, but merely identifies that it could be arguably voidable. This, he stated, was in order to save the parties and their new spouses undue punishment for the courts’ failure to spot the mistake when granting the decree nisi and decree absolute. Paul Nuttall and Sundeep Budwal, family solicitors based at our Shepherd’s Bush branch, were instructed to act on behalf of P, the former wife, in challenging the proceedings brought against her and her former husband by the Queen’s Proctor. After first seeking a divorce 5 years ago, she is pleased with the success that this judgment has brought, which will also impact future cases of this sort. Whilst not criticising the Legal Aid Agency directly, Sir James Munby was also very critical of the lack of funding available for P, especially in lieu of the fact that she was facing the Queen’s Proctor, an officer of the state. Without Duncan Lewis having taken on her case on a pro bono basis, P would have been without representation facing a serious application made by the state.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

‘Victims of the justice system’ left to rely on free help from lawyers let down by courts, judiciary and legal aid, blasts former top family judge (Legal Cheek) (25 March 2019)

According to retired family president, Sir James Munby, who was sitting as High Court judge in the case of M v P [2019], both parties were victim to an administrative error which left them with a “wholly defective” divorce. The former wife, P, instructed family solicitors Paul Nuttall and Sundeep Budwal when she was faced with proceedings brought by the Queen’s Proctor. Legal Cheek has reported on the case, which asked the question, when a divorce has been achieved erroneously as a result of court failings, is the divorce void or merely voidable. When seeking a divorce, P’s husband at the time, M, petitioned for a divorce on the basis that the couple had been separated for a continual period for 2 years, when they had only been married for 22 months in total. This mistake was not spotted by the two judges who subsequently granted the decree nisi and the decree absolute and the pair both went on to remarry. In an attempt to put right the mistake, district judge Middleton-Roy amended the reason for divorce, but the Queen’s Proctor challenged this stating that the district judge had no authority to retrospectively change this and claimed that, as a result, the divorce was void. When the case subsequently came to High Court, it was Sir James Munby’s view that M and P should not be penalised for a mistake made by the courts and that the divorce was voidable, but not void and therefore it remains valid. Whilst not criticising the Legal Aid Agency directly, Sir James Munby was also very critical of the lack of funding available for P, especially in lieu of the fact that she was facing the Queen’s Proctor, an officer of the state. Without Duncan Lewis having taken on her case on a pro bono basis, P would have been without representation facing a serious application made by the state. He went on to thank the solicitors, Sundeep and Paul and instructed Counsel, Janet Bazley QC and Katherine Dunseath (1GC Family Law), for the “professional dedication, commitment and sense of duty [which was] so conspicuously shown”.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

More relief for legal aid lawyers: government gives ground on judicial review work (Free Movement) (21 March 2019)

In this article in Free Movement, James Packer has written on how the Lord Chancellor has conceded that funding shall be granted for applications for legal aid where permission was refused on the papers. When representing Duncan Lewis in this challenge, James was successful in arguing that grounds for implementing a ‘payment-by-results regime’ was not conducive with the fact that initially a funding certificate was granted, meaning the Legal Aid Agency believed the case to have merit. James writes: ‘The decision in Ben Hoare Bell led to amendments to the Regulations that removed many of the worst aspects of the regime, but crucially the provision that if permission was refused then payment could not be made (other than in certain restricted circumstances, such as where the Home Office reversed a decision and then relied upon that reversal as a reason to refuse permission) was left largely intact.’ After Duncan Lewis’ judicial review was granted permission by the Divisional Court, the Lord Chancellor did admit that he has misinterpreted the Regulation 5A of the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulation 2013 in refusing payment under these circumstances (read more on this here). In accordance with this result, clarification has now been published ‘Civil news: clarification on payment rules for judicial review’.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Detained migrants working way below minimum wage lose out on £250k in just one month (Morning Star) (19 March 2019)

Once again outrage over the £1 per hour wage regime implemented by the Home Office for detainees working in immigration removal centres (IRCs) has burgeoned. The Morning Star has charted an estimation of the pay which detainees have lost out on compared with the current minimum wage afforded to 25s and over. It is predicted that it equates to £250,000 for just one month, in accordance with the hours racked up by detainees functioning under these essential roles that support the running of the IRCs. Philip Armitage is part of the team at Duncan Lewis that are challenging this policy. He comments: “It continues to be a national disgrace that the Home Office pays immigration detainees £1 per hour to clean and maintain the detention centres where their liberty is being denied. These latest figures show the scale of the problem and we continue to challenge this policy on behalf of our clients. A rethink in this exploitative policy is well overdue.” The challenge being brought it currently pending with judgment anticipated shortly.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Suffering from delays: How can you tell the age of an undocumented migrant? (EuroNews) (21 February 2019)

EuroNews has reported on the undocumented migrants who are suffering under the current age assessment processes which are used to determine whether they should be afforded international protection as a child. This is an issue which the documentary “Suffering from Delays” explores, interviewing current migrants in France, refugee organisations as well as legal practitioners who act on behalf of those who are seeking asylum. Director of Immigration at Duncan Lewis, Zofia Duszynska was interviewed as part of the documentary speaking about the way that age assessments are conducted and how young migrants are struggling to get the protection they need whilst they are still under 18 due to the delays caused by the slow and unreliable process used to assess the age of these migrants. She explains: “There are no standardised physical charts for children of all nationalities…all of the guidelines for bone development and educational development are based on western children who grew up in a western environment. So if you have a child who has grown up in a warzone, nutrition may not have been great, education may not have been great. It is very difficult to assess their age unless they can point to milestones.” According to Home Office statistics, a migrant is 3 times more likely to have their asylum claim approved whilst they are under 18. Zofia warns that once these young migrants turn 18, “…unless they succeed in their claim on its own merit, they are not going to be given protection as a child.” Cédric, a young refugee living in France, was legally recognised as a minor 2 years ago but after turning 18 he lost his minor status and was told to leave the children’s home he is housed in. He is now concerned for his future and whether he will be given settled status now that he is no longer a child.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office admits it unlawfully detained trafficking victim for six months (Independent) (14 February 2019)

In another instance of a victim of trafficking falling through the procedural cracks, the Independent has reported on the case of a Chinese woman who was detained by the Home Office for 6 months, despite being unsuitable for detention under the Home Office ‘Adult at Risk’ policy. The woman was initially found in a brothel by police in 2016, she was then detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre before being release a week later due to space issues. She was later discovered in a massage parlour in 2018 and re-detained for a further 6 months. Whilst she was held she demonstrated clear indicators of trauma which is indicative of having been trafficked and abused. A report from the detention centre psychiatrist described a general decomposition in her personality as well as depressive and psychotic traits that were not being appropriately managed in detention. Despite this she remained in detention for a further period of time. Two days before the High Court hearing, the Home Office finally accepted that her detention had been unlawful and that she was entitled to damages. As her solicitor, Shalini Patel had this to say, “The claimant should never have been in immigration detention. The Home Office’s own policies recognise that potential victims of trafficking are not usually suitable for detention. Sadly, the claimant’s experience is not atypical. This is just one snapshot of the failures of the Adults at Risk policy.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Detained migrants swindled out of £27 million in wages (Morning Star) (13 February 2019)

The Morning Star have begun a campaign, ‘No More Sweated Labour’, demanding minimum wage for detainees held in immigration detention centres across the UK. This is an issue which many have spoken out about, including clients that Duncan Lewis are currently acting on behalf in a judicial review brought to challenge the decision to freeze detention centre pay at £1 per hour. According to a freedom of information request by the Morning Star, over the last 10 years detainees have earned just £5m. If they had been paid minimum wage, the same hours would equate to £33.5m. Philip Armitage, who is part of the legal team preparing the judicial review, has been quoted: “These latest figures show the huge sums which are being saved by paying those held in immigration detention £1 per hour for their labour. Our clients worked up to 30 hours per week doing critical work for the maintenance of the detention estate, such as cleaning, because they were desperately in need of financial support. The situation is clearly exploitative and another scandalous abuse of Home Office power.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Some relief for legal aid lawyers as government concedes payment for backdated work (Free Movement) (11 February 2019)

James Packer has written for Free Movement on the recent publication of The Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 in response to litigation brought by Duncan Lewis Solicitors. His article highlights the important concessions that Duncan Lewis has achieved for legal aid providers, who will reap the benefit of payment for backdated work as of 20 February 2019. James writes ‘[t]he conditions under which the Legal Aid Agency now has a discretion to backdate a certificate are: 1. That the application for funding must be made as soon as reasonably practicable. 2. That it is in the interests of justice for work to be carried out before a decision is received. 3.That the Director is satisfied that a decision to backdate is appropriate, having regard to all circumstances.’ Toufique Hossain (Director of Public Law), Jamie Bell (Lead Solicitor) and Jeremy Bloom (Trainee Solicitor) prepared the case and Osbournes Solicitors were an interested party. Bindmans, Broudie Jackson Canter, Deighton Pierce Glynn, Legal Aid Practitioners Group, Leigh Day, and the Public Law Project provided evidence in support of the claim.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

G4S faces prosecution over smoking at immigration detention centre (Guardian) (11 February 2019)

Following the High Court ruling banning smoking inside immigration detention centres, as a direct result of litigation Duncan Lewis brought, the Guardian has reported on the G4S run detention centre, Brook House, which is still permitting the practice and has led to Crawley Council starting a criminal prosecution against the company. Whilst the detention centre no longer sells lighters or matches, detainees can still purchase cigarettes. The Guardian have reported that in order to light them they are going to dangerous extremes, including dismantling kitchen appliances or getting a spark from inserting shower gel covered hair pins into live plug sockets. A Senior Manager of the centre admitted in a recent G4S-commissioned report that nothing is being done to prevent the detainees smoking inside the centre, even making reference to their use of the illegal psychoactive drug, spice, without any staff intervention. Lewis Kett, a public law solicitor involved in the case that resulted in the smoking ban, commented: “It’s now been over a year since the high court ruled that the Home Office were knowingly evading the law by permitting smoking in detention centres. Despite this we have clients who have continued to complain that G4S has not cracked down on this. This is a serious public health issue and we welcome the news that this prosecution will proceed.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Convicted for peaceful protest (Amnesty International UK) (22 January 2019)

Amnesty International UK has shared the story of the Stansted 15; a group of activists who laid down in front of a chartered flight they believed to be about to enforce the removal of a number of people to Ghana and Nigeria in March 2017. It is this type of human rights activism that is at risk as a result of the legal action that has been brought against them. Initially they were charged with aggravated trespassing; however this was later changed to a terrorism offence which incurs a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is thought that if their sentence is carried out it will dissuade others from speaking out and challenging unlawful removals from the UK. Toufique Hossain, a public law and immigration director who frequently acts on behalf of immigration detainees at risk of removal, spoke on the Stansted 15’s actions in a documentary by feature film director, writer and composer Sue Clayton, entitled ‘Stansted Fifteen on Trial’. He stated: “…thanks to the Stansted 15 and because of their actions [Mercy*] was not removed to what would be a potentially life threatening [situation].” He commented on the UK’s current hostile environment policy and how it is limiting access to justice, “if those very desperate individuals can’t access justice, they can’t get lawyers because of the hostile environment and everything the hostile environment has done in reducing legal aid, reducing appeal rights and reducing the ability to access lawyers, then you will see people who want to help, who want to intervene and stop these people from effectively being returned to torture and to death. They will intervene in ways where lawyers can no longer assist.” *Please note her real name has been replaced to protect her identity.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

State violence against migrants: how immigration removal became normal and how we are challenging it now (Journal of Immigration, Asylum & Nationality Law) (16 January 2019)

Patrick Page, a senior caseworker in our public law department, and editor of the department’s ‘No Walls’ blog, has co-authored an article with the director of immigration and public law, Toufique Hossain, for the Journal of Immigration, Asylum & Nationality Law (the official journal of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association) on the topic of state violence and the Home Office’s immigration removal policies. Westlaw members can access the full article here. Patrick and Toufique trace the development of the executive’s powers of administrative removal, from a historically liberal and cosmopolitan approach to the ‘deportation turn’ following 9/11, to the hostile environment of today. They then outline more recent challenges to removal policies, focusing ultimately on the challenge made by clients of Duncan Lewis to the current ‘removal window’ policy, whereby people are given little or no notice of their removal and are thus deprived of a fair chance to challenge their removal. More about this litigation and its outcome can be found here. Patrick and Toufique write: ‘While the power to remove is legislated for, the executive has creatively written policy "interpreting” the statute, granting itself powers which are not grounded in the word or spirit of this legislation, not to speak of the Rule of Law.’   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Stansted Fifteen on Trial (by Sue Clayton on Vimeo) (15 January 2019)

Public law and immigration director, Toufique Hossain has featured in the short film ‘Stansted Fifteen on Trial’ which has been created by UK feature film director, writer and composer Sue Clayton. The film documents the story of 15 individuals who staged a peaceful protest at Stansted airport in March 2017 to contest a flight carrying people facing deportation and extreme danger on return to their home countries. Following a 9 week trial which began in October 2018, the 15 protestors were found guilty of a terrorism offence under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act, for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment, despite the fact that they did what they did to save lives, not endanger them. They await sentencing which is expected in February. Speaking about Mercy*, who was due to be removed to Nigeria the day of the protest, Toufique says “…thanks to the Stansted 15 and because of their actions she was not removed to what would be a potentially life threatening [situation].” He also comments on how the UK’s current immigration policies are limiting access to justice, “if those very desperate individuals can’t access justice, they can’t get lawyers because of the hostile environment and everything the hostile environment has done in reducing legal aid, reducing appeal rights and reducing the ability to access lawyers, then you will see people who want to help, who want to intervene and stop these people from effectively being returned to torture and to death. They will intervene in ways where lawyers can no longer assist.” *Please note her real name has been replaced to protect her identity.   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Duncan Lewis client who faced removal to DR Congo has been released from detention (Multiple sources) (14 January 2019)

A national of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Otis Bolamu, who fled persecution following accusations of being a spy and subsequently threatened with removal out of the UK on Christmas day, has been released from detention and allowed to return to his home in Swansea. A petition was shared with an aim to release Otis from detention after he was initially held under immigration powers on the 19th December 2018. 12,000 people signed to show their support and his removal was halted before he was finally release from detention on the 10th January. A number of different media outlets, including the BBC, Guardian, ITV News and Wales Online, have written on this case, speaking out about the injustice which has seen Otis refused leave to remain. Otis is a client of Public Law solicitor, Jamie Bell, who has been acting on his behalf to get Otis leave to remain. Jamie continues to work on processing Otis’ asylum claim to ensure he gets the international protection he needs. He has commented: “We are delighted that Otis returned home after his release from detention. He has received amazing support from so many in the Swansea community and this gave him hope when he was feeling lost. We now look forward to continuing to fight for Otis's right to stay in the UK as a refugee and will be working hard to prove his claim.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Chinese women trafficked to UK 'being failed by Home Office' (Guardian) (10 January 2019)

The Guardian have written on the statistics which have revealed that the detention of Chinese women in UK immigration detention centres, many of whom are victims of trafficking, has more than doubled since 2016. Women for Refuge Women have warned that a worrying number of Chinese women, a total of 112, had been detained in UK immigration detention centres in the 3 months prior to September 2018. Shalini Patel, a Public Law solicitor based at our Harrow office, states that often these women do not disclose that they are a victims of trafficking until some time has passed and once they are processed through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) they are refused due to late disclosure. Despite the fact that ‘late disclosure was a recognised symptom of trafficking’ and ‘the Home Office’s own policy recognises that victims of trafficking may disclose late due to trauma, an inability to express themselves clearly and a mistrust of authority’ victims are still misidentified. Shalini explains that the problem lies with the lack of action at an early stage: “What’s happening with these cases is that even if these women are picked up in brothels, restaurants, and massage parlours, where, clearly, police and immigration enforcement should be concerned that they may be victims of trafficking, they’re just not being referred to the national referral mechanism (NRM). And, in the rare cases that they are referred to the NRM, they receive a negative reasonable grounds decision. There are also long delays in providing decisions.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Activists urge jail for controlling partners (Eastern Eye) (7 January 2019)

Emine Mehmet, a director of family and childcare based at our Dalston branch, has been quoted in Eastern Eye discussing her experience representing women who have found themselves trapped in controlling and abusive relationships. Eastern Eye has written about statistics which have arisen that show Asian women are less likely to speak out and begin legal proceedings against their partners despite living with domestic abuse. Campaigners have suggested that sentencing domestic abusers to prison time would encourage more women to come forward and report mistreatment. Emine has stated: “The most important thing is educating women at an early stage that this behaviour is not acceptable. It can be difficult to break that cultural perception that it is shameful to report such behaviour. Also, any services that assist women in these circumstances need to be sensitive to cultural issues and offer early advice on protective orders and safe places to ensure women know these is support and protection available. I had a case which was an extreme example, where the woman was effectively kept as a modern-day slave and was not allowed any freedom at all. She sought help through medical services and was then placed in a hostel and given advice about protective orders which really helped.”   Read more...

Duncan Lewis:InThePress

Home Office tried to remove two Duncan Lewis clients over the Christmas period (Guardian) (7 January 2019)

Jamie Bell has spoken to the Guardian following the Home Office’s attempt to remove his clients over the Christmas period. One, a woman from South America is a potential victim of trafficking who is at risk of suicide – despite this she was scheduled for removal on Boxing Day. She wasn’t the only scheduled removal, with another of Jamie’s clients who was booked for Christmas day. He was successful in challenging his South American client's removal and was able to defer it by making urgent representations demonstrating that she is unfit to fly. The Congolese client’s removal was halted following a petition launched on his behalf. Jamie spoke to the Guardian about the Home Office’s practice to remove detainees over the festive period. He states: “The Home Office attempted to remove a potential victim of trafficking and domestic abuse who was segregated due to her active self-harm and suicidal ideation to the country where she was horrendously exploited. She was totally confused and terrified of returning, so much that she planned to take her own life. The policy of Christmas removals is one that severely impedes full and entitled representation. We struggle to see how arresting Otis Bolamu in a dawn raid at 4am on 19 December and telling him that he was to be returned on Christmas Day can be considered reasonable and proportionate action. We are very happy removal was deferred and we will have time to work on his further submissions. The holidays are supposed to be a time for joy and togetherness, not for the Home Office to take advantage to try to forcibly remove individuals to countries where they are fearful of return.”   Read more...

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