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Former England boxer wins 16-year legal battle to live and work in the UK (3 July 2020)

Date: 03/07/2020
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Former England boxer wins 16-year legal battle to live and work in the UK

Our client, the former England boxer Kelvin Bilal Fawaz, has won his legal battle to live and work in the UK. After our successful immigration application for leave to remain, the Home Office conceded that he should be allowed to remain in the country and granted him leave to remain for 30 months.

After being trafficked to the UK from Nigeria when he was a child, Bilal had been trying to establish his adult nationality and immigration status since his period of discretionary leave that he was granted as a child, expired when he turned 18.

This process proved difficult since the Home Office refused to accept that the expiration of his discretionary leave left Bilal stateless. The situation then worsened as the Home Office delayed decisions on the case, refused to grant him a work permit, and most recently attempted to deport him to Nigeria despite the Nigerian authorities denying Bilal a passport and citizenship.

The Home Office attempted to justify their decision to deport Bilal by citing low-level criminal charges that he accrued as a traumatised child in the care system, to claim that he posed a risk to the public placing Bilal under the Home Office Operation Nexus High Harm Team.

He was also twice detained in immigration removal centres and was only released from Brook House immigration detention centre after we threatened the Home Office with legal action for an unlawful detention. This was despite previously recognising him as an adult at ‘risk’ on mental health grounds.

As a child and teenager, Bilal discovered his passion for boxing whilst in the care system, and despite representing England on an amateur level, the Home Office’s refusal to grant him a work permit denied him the chance of a professional career, as well as the opportunity to represent Britain at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

Our Birmingham-based public law team was instructed by Bilal in May 2019 when he was in detention. Judicial review applications were also lodged in relation to Bilal’s trafficking decision and the failure by the Home Office to grant him discretionary leave to remain despite accepting him as a victim of trafficking.

Upon threating the Home Office with multiple legal challenges, they conceded that he should be allowed to remain in the UK, granting him leave to remain for 30 months in light of his exceptional personal history. This will now mean that he has the right to work.

Public law solicitor Sumbul Phillips comments;

“This is an incredible result for a very deserving case. Bilal was brought to the UK and trafficked at the age of 15. Despite this being widespread public knowledge over the years, no action was taken to address the trauma he suffered. He has been in the UK for more than 16 years and has been detained twice, but he never gave up, and from the moment he instructed Duncan Lewis Solicitors, neither did we. Bilal’s case also serves as a reminder to everyone that there are hundreds of victims of trafficking still out there, being all too often overlooked by the government. We will continue to fight for justice for people in this situation.”


Representation

Public law director Ahmed Aydeed and solicitor Sumbul Phillips led the challenges with assistance from caseworkers Karen Staunton and Farheen Ahmed, and trainee solicitor Primisha Chudasama.

Chris Buttler and Zoe McCallum instructed from Matrix Chambers.

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