Deported pair to be returned to UK

Published: Wednesday 22nd April 2015 by The News Editor

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The Home Office has been ordered to bring a woman and her son back to the UK after they were deported.

In an unusual move judges told the department to organise the return of the mother and the five-year-old British-born boy from her native Nigeria.

They found that in ordering the pair’s removal from the UK in January, the Home Office “failed to have regard to (the child’s) best interests as a primary consideration”.

After agreeing to a judicial review of the case, the judges ordered the Home Secretary to “take all reasonable steps” to ensure the mother and her child’s return.

The 45-year-old woman is of Yoruba ethnicity and previously lived in Abeokuta, Ogun state, in the west African country.

She claimed her parents and siblings died in a car accident and her father’s relatives tried to get her to marry someone she did not love.

The woman, named in court documents as BF, sought leave to remain in the UK in 2007 on the basis of “long residence” in the country, claiming she had lived here since 1991.

Her application was rejected after an immigration judge ruled that she had not been “continuously present” since 1991. In a later hearing another judge found that she probably arrived in Britain in 2006.

BF was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment in October 2008 for using a false Dutch passport and h er son, referred to as RA, was born in Britain in 2009.

In April 2010 she made an application for asylum and humanitarian protection on the basis that she feared persecution and ill-treatment on return to the country of her birth, but that was refused.

Her lawyers made a number of attempts to stop her deportation, citing human rights laws and saying that ordering the return of the mother and child would be “contrary to his welfare”.

However, the asylum claim was repeatedly rejected and the woman and the boy were placed on a flight to Nigeria in January.

Following their deportation an application was lodged at the Upper Chamber of the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal for a judicial review.

It was claimed that the Home Office acted unlawfully in removing them by not considering the boy’s own position as a claimant “in his own right or properly as a dependent within a fresh claim made by him and/or his mother” and “without in his best interests planning for their reception and protective integration on return to Nigeria”.

In their judgement Mr Justice Cranston and Upper Tribunal Judge Reeds concluded that the Home Office did not act “irrationally or otherwise unlawfully” in not treating the representations made previously as a separate claim for RA.

However, they found that the department’s refusal to accept submissions made on behalf of the mother and child just before they left the UK as a fresh asylum claim “do not evidence the regard to the best interests of RA as a primary consideration”.

The woman’s solicitors had argued that it was in the child’s best interests to remain in part because it was likely that returning them to Nigeria would exacerbate his mother’s mental health problems.

Ordering a judicial review on March 30, the judges said the decision that the lawyers’ representations did not show a realistic prospect of success was “flawed”.

“There can be no challenge to the Secretary of State’s reasons for rejecting the representations as a fresh claim as regards BF on her own,” their judgement said.

“In ordinary circumstances that would be conclusive with respect to RA’s interests as well: young children like RA are removable with their parents and their best interests are served by being with them.

“But in the special circumstances of this case, 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 on removal, the Secretary of State failed to have regard to RA’s best interests as a primary consideration.”

Counsel for the Home Office had argued that it had properly considered the best interests of the boy and at all times considered his interests “lawfully, reasonably and sensitive to his needs”.

In a hearing before the same judges last week lawyers for the woman and child submitted that they should be returned to the UK on the basis that their removal was “unlawful”.

The judges concluded: “C onsidering the very unusual circumstances in the round we have decided that the Secretary of State should be ordered to take all reasonable steps to ensure the return of RA and his mother to this country.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are unable to comment due to the ongoing nature of this case.”

The Home Office is making an application for permission to appeal, which will be heard later today.

Published: Wednesday 22nd April 2015 by The News Editor

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