Home Office must suspend policy on removing immigrants 'without warning'

A controversial Home Office deportation policy has been blocked by the High Court – giving a reprieve to dozens of people who would have been forced to leave.

The temporary block comes because campaign group Medical Justice has challenged the Removal Notice Window (RNW) policy – under which migrants are given between 72 hours and seven days notice that they face being removed at some point during the next three months without further warning.

The policy has been branded "a serious interference with the right of access to justice, a threat to the rule of law and irrational".

The group applied for an interim injunction to prevent anyone being deported under the policy until a full trial of its lawfulness could take place.

At a hearing in London on Thursday, Mr Justice Walker granted the injunction preventing the removal of anyone subject to the RNW policy until a full hearing later this year.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid

 

The judge said that there "appears to be grounds for real concern about access to justice".

The High Court heard that the Home Office will have to cancel the deportations of 69 people who were due to be removed from the UK on Thursday and Friday.

Charlotte Kilroy QC, for Medical Justice, earlier told the court that "the notice period is so short that the representations that are supposed to follow from this notice of liability to removal expires before any reasonable person – any person – can realistically both make those representations and receive from the Secretary of State a decision upon them".

She added: "The Secretary of State designed a policy which is hard-wired to produce a situation where there is no access to justice in relation to the decisions that he makes and that, in my submission, is a flagrant and serious interference with the right of access to justice and a grave threat to the rule of law."

Steven Kovats QC, for the Home Office, argued that an interim injunction would cause "disruption" and could also "enhance the risk of people deploying last-minute attempts to sabotage removals, which is indeed the underlying reason why the policy exists in the first place".

 

In a statement after the ruling, a Medical Justice spokeswoman said: "Denying extremely vulnerable people access to justice on this massive scale is a hidden issue causing serious harm and risking life.

"Many of our sick clients are subject to ‘removal windows’ – we don’t know if they will still be in the UK from one day to the next.

"Clients we have managed to remain in contact with have described terrible consequences of being removed with no legal advice and access to the courts.

"Some have been removed to countries they fled persecution from, and have not been heard of again. The Home Office must bear some responsibility for their fate.

"No one is surprised any more when you describe how the Home Office systematically treats unwanted migrants with contempt, putting many lives in danger."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are disappointed with the outcome of today’s hearing. As legal proceedings are ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further."

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