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Unprecedented immigration case could open door to removal challenges

A High Court ruling that a gay Ugandan woman was wrongly removed and should return to the UK could open the door to thousands of similar claims.

The Home Office has said it will challenge the unprecedented verdict after a judge in PN v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 1616 (Admin) (24 June 2019) ruled that the decision to reject the woman’s claim for asylum was unlawful. The court declared that the government department must locate and return the Ugandan woman to the UK.

The 25-year-old was removed from the UK in 2013 on the grounds that the Home Office did not believe she was gay. She had arrived in the country just two years earlier to seek asylum on the basis that her sexuality meant she would face persecution in her home country.

The High Court judge ruled that the lady had not been allowed sufficient time to gather evidence in order to support her case and declared the process to remove her as unfair.

Thousands of cases decided under the “detained fast-track system”

The woman’s case was just one of thousands determined by the Home Office’s detained fast-track system which was in operation for a decade from 2005 onward. The process was scrapped after the High Court ruled it was “structurally unfair”.

The case, which was the first of its kind to be brought, could pave the way for thousands of similar challenges. The fast-track system was deemed unjust because it did not allow enough time for evidence to be obtained, or for lawyers representing asylum seekers to take instructions, translate documents and prepare statements.

Campaign group Detention Action likened the case to the Windrush scandal in that thousands of people had been unlawfully removed from the UK.

Home Office to appeal

The Home Office has sought permission to appeal the ruling which was published on June 24th. The court will decide whether to accept the application to appeal the decision which campaigners have described as a “cover-up” attempt by the government.


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