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In The Press Articles

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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