Government loses section 55 appeal

The government has lost its appeal against three High Court rulings
that its controversial section 55 policy breached asylum seekers’
human rights.

In a ground-breaking Appeal Court judgement last week, judges found
against the home secretary David Blunkett in a two to one majority
ruling that “shelter of some form from the elements at night” was a
“basic amenity”.

Section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
denies support to asylum seekers who fail to make their claim “as
soon as reasonably practicable”.

The High Court previously ruled that the government’s denial of
accommodation to three destitute asylum seekers under section 55
breached article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This
states that no one should be subjected to “inhuman or degrading

Hundreds of other similar cases have been awaiting the Appeal
Court’s decision, and homelessness charity Shelter said it meant
that those refused state assistance might now have a case for
claiming their human rights had been breached.

The Appeal Court judges gave Blunkett permission to appeal further
to the House of Lords. It also instructed the Home Office to
produce guidance on the implementation of Section 55 in order to
prevent further breaches of human rights.

The Home Office said it was “disappointed” by the decision and said
that the “basic thrust” of section 55 had been vindicated in the

Guidance will not be produced until the case has been heard in the
House of Lords.

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