Duncan Lewis Solicitors is representing the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and Care4Calais in a judicial review claim challenging the lawfulness of the Home Office’s policy of redirecting migrant boats out of UK waters and back to France (the Pushbacks Policy).
The Claimants challenge the policy on the grounds that the Immigration Act 1971 does not provide a power for the Home Office to compel vessels to travel from UK waters to France and that the Policy will inevitably give rise to breaches of Article 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life and the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment).
PCS is the largest trade union representing civil servants, and its members include around 80% of the Border Force officials who will be tasked with implementing the Pushbacks Policy. PCS is concerned that the Pushbacks Policy is unlawful, unworkable and morally reprehensible, that it will create a serious risk to the lives of people trying to reach the UK and to Border Force officials and that it will have adverse mental health impacts on the Border Force officials forced to implement it. They are concerned that the policy will be impossible to implement in a safe way because the Border Force are unlikely to be able to properly assess at sea whether a boat can be safely turned around. If the policy is unlawful, it might also expose PCS members to personal civil or criminal liability.
Care4Calais works with refugees in the UK, France and Belgium delivering essential support to refugees including warm clothing, bedding, food, medical assistance and social support. The organisation is concerned that the Pushbacks Policy will add to the already significant risk to life faced by refugees who choose to cross the channel. They are concerned that refugees, many of whom are children, and who often suffer from trauma and serious mental health conditions, will suffer most from the Policy.
Care4Calais are raising funds to protect themselves from paying the Home Office’s legal fees if the claim is not successful and to contribute to their own legal costs. For more information or to donate, please visit this site: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/challenging-the-pushbacks-policy/
Jeremy Bloom, Solicitor for the Claimants at Duncan Lewis Solicitors stated as follows:
The Claimants in this challenge are unpersuaded by the Home Office’s weak legal reasoning to argue that they have the power under the Immigration Act 1971 to carry out pushbacks in the English Channel. But, even if such a power existed, the Home Office’s policy fails to protect refugees and Border Force officials from serious harm or death at sea. The Home Secretary may see this issue as a political football, but our clients do not. This claim is about upholding the rule of law and protecting lives.
The team at Duncan Lewis representing the Claimants are Toufique Hossain, Jeremy Bloom and Nina Kamp. The Claimants have instructed Chris Buttler QC and James Robottom at Matrix Chambers.