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Brook House Inquiry: High Court orders hearing to determine whether Home Office’s inquiry into detention centre abuse will comply with human rights (31 January 2019)

Date: 31/01/2019
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Brook House Inquiry: High Court orders hearing to determine whether Home Office’s inquiry into detention centre abuse will comply with human rights

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

BBC Panorama Documentary

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

The BBC documentary revealed shocking mistreatment of detainees by detention staff, including against MA, who was filmed being strangled by a detention officer.

Challenging the Home Office

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

High Court Hearing in May 2019

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

MA is represented by Lewis Kett and Nicholas Hughes of Duncan Lewis’ public law team. They have instructed Stephanie Harrison QC of Garden Court Chambers and Alex Goodman of Landmark Chambers.

Duncan Lewis Public Law Solicitors

The Duncan Lewis Public Law department continues to be recommended by Legal 500 with the 2019 edition reporting its 'strong presence in this area of the law, making a particularly dominant contribution in immigration, asylum and prison law.' The Public law team has experience in all aspects of judicial review claimant work, including obtaining emergency orders and other interim relief to prevent breaches of human rights, following up judicial reviews with actions for damages in both the County and High Court and successfully pursuing judicial review matters to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. A particular focus is the team’s work handling cases of the deprivation of British citizenship and deportation threats, with a niche specialism in challenging the treatment of immigration detainees and other marginalised communities.

To contact a member of our public law team, call 033 3772 0409.

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