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Permission to Apply for Judicial Review Granted for Duncan Lewis Challenge to GPS tracking by the Home Office (31 March 2023)

Date: 31/03/2023
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Permission to Apply for Judicial Review Granted for Duncan Lewis Challenge to GPS tracking by the Home Office

Duncan Lewis’ legal challenge to the Secretary of State for the Home Department’s 24/7 GPS tracking of migrants as a condition of their immigration bail has been granted permission to apply for judicial review on all grounds argued, as per an order of the Hon. Mr Justice Murray on 28 March 2023.

Since August 2021, individuals on immigration bail facing deportation have become subject to Electronic Monitoring, an intrusive form of surveillance which tracks their location on a 24/7 basis and retains all data collected during that time. This has been done through a device which is fitted to the individual’s ankle, and requires charging for a minimum of 2 hours per day. If the device loses its battery, or the individual is found not to be using it correctly, they receive notifications that they have breached their bail conditions and visits to their home from the subcontractors responsible for the device. The consequences of such a breach go as far as being re-detained under immigration powers, as well as potentially constituting a criminal offence punishable by fine or prison sentence. Such intrusive measures directly engage Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to respect for private and family life.

Four Duncan Lewis clients have brought the challenge together. These clients include survivors of trafficking, modern slavery, domestic violence and FGM, as well as those threatened with removal to Rwanda and one EEA national. Each client instructed that wearing the GPS tracking device caused severe detriment to their mental health. They have felt stigmatised, increasingly confined to their homes, and felt as if their lives are controlled by the Home Office at all times. A joint report by Bail for Immigration Detainees, Medical Justice and Public Law Project has supported these claims, and deemed such measures to be neither necessary nor cost effective.

The challenge has already led to an amendment of Home Office Policy Guidance, and interim relief being granted for a survivor of trafficking and modern slavery in need of accommodation, as well as the removal of the tracking devices for a number of the claimants. However, the following grounds were argued in filling the claim:

  • That the interference with Article 8 was not in accordance with the law because it was imposed without independent prior authorisation and without providing reasons as required by the Immigration Act 2016/the common law;

  • That the interference with Article 8 was disproportionate to any aim pursued and is therefore not necessary in any democratic society;

  • That the interference with Article 8 arising from the ongoing retention of data derived from GPS tracking is also disproportionate to any aim pursued and not necessary in a democratic society, as well as failing to be in accordance with the law because it has been done pursuant to a blanket policy, rather than giving due consideration to individual circumstance;

On 28 March 2023 The Honourable Mr Justice Murray granted full permission to apply for judicial review on these grounds, and listed for the matter to be heard in the High Court.

The claimants are represented by Ahmed Aydeed, Jonah Mendelsohn, Conor Lamb, and Natalie Hawes. The Counsel instructed on the claim are Chris Buttler KC and Aidan Wills of Matrix Chambers, as well as Karen Staunton of 4 King’s Bench Walk.

The Duncan Lewis immigration and public law department is expert in all aspects of human rights, asylum and deportation. The team has achieved significant success on behalf of its clients. It holds a distinguished position in leading bold public interest litigation, in challenging litigation and political conditions that frequently invoke common law, constitutional and human rights arguments.

The team has a broad practice representing clients in matters involving immigration; asylum and human rights and deportation matters, with a niche practice in immigration and civil liberties claimant judicial review matters.

For advice in respect of GPS electronic tagging, or indeed any public law or immigration matter, contact public law director Ahmed Aydeed via email on ahmeda@duncanlewis.com or via telephone on 020 7275 2668.

About the author: Conor Lamb is a caseworker in the public law department based at Duncan Lewis' City of London office. He assists the team on the day-to-day handling of cases involving a range of matters, working under the supervision of director, Ahmed Aydeed.

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