In a landmark ruling that threatens to undermine the United Kingdom’s Government’s “deport first, appeal later” policy, the Home Office has been ordered to arrange for a deported family to be returned to the UK from Nigeria.
Mr. Justice Cranston, sitting in the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber, granted a judicial review of the decision to deport the pair and ordered that the Home Office organise and foot the bill for their return to the UK by today at the latest.
The ruling criticised the Home Office for its “flawed” decision to put the child, referred to as RA, and his 45-year-old mother Bola Fatunbi on a plane to Nigeria at the end of January despite evidence of the woman’s poor mental health and the risk that both she and her son would end up destitute on the streets and at risk of prostitution, child labour or trafficking.
The judge ruled: “In not taking into account the implications of BF’s mental health for RA, and the risk of that degenerating in the Nigerian context and the likely consequences of removal, the Secretary of State failed to have regard to BF’s best interests as a primary consideration.”
The Nigerian woman claims to have been in the UK illegally since 1991 and applied for asylum in 2010, stating that she feared destitution and discrimination as a single mother in Nigeria with no immediate family.
Theresa May’s department will face contempt of court proceedings unless the woman and her five-year-old son are located and transported back to the UK at the Home Office’s expense by today.
This is believed to be the first time that an immigration judge has demanded that the government retrieve asylum-seekers previously deported from the UK.
Asylum campaigners and children’s charities have welcomed the ruling, which could have major implications for the way in which scores of children and their parents are deported from the UK every year.
The judgment raises fresh doubts about the validity of Ms. May’s election pledge to implement a “deport first, appeal later” regime under which asylum-seekers and migrants would automatically be sent back to their country of origin unless they could prove they would be at risk of “irreversible harm”.
Last week’s ruling sets a potential precedent that the best interests and welfare of the child should be the primary consideration in deportation orders, even if their parents’ case has been quashed.
The Home Office has however been granted a last-minute hearing at the Court of Appeal to quash that decision, reflecting the seriousness of the case.