The government is to appeal against last week’s ruling by the High
Court to allow a judicial review of its decision to refuse to
support six late-claiming asylum seekers.
The asylum seekers brought the test case against the government
after they were denied assistance under section 55 of the
Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, which came into
effect in January this year. The section states that people must
apply for asylum “as soon as reasonably practicable” in order to be
eligible for assistance.
Mr Justice Collins ruled the application of section 55 in the six
asylum seekers’ cases was “flawed” and had breached the European
Convention on Human Rights of 1950.
He urged the government to reconsider its decision in the six cases
and said the High Court had already being “inundated” with
challenges to the legislation.
Sandy Buchan, chief executive of charity Refugee Action, said he
was delighted with the ruling. “Degrading asylum seekers’ human
rights here by driving them into destitution is not a long-term
workable solution to the asylum issue,” he said.
Home secretary David Blunkett said he was “deeply concerned” that
the High Court found against the Home Office and insisted the law
still stood. “This measure is an important part of our asylum
reform programme which is dealing with widespread abuse of the
system and reducing unfounded claims,” he said.
The attorney general is due to lead the government’s appeal next
A Home Office spokesperson said the government needed time to
consider its position and look at how it needed to “amend” its
practices in order to comply with the ruling.
He denied that the government planned to withdraw from the European
Convention on Human Rights in order to avoid being responsible for
asylum seekers. “We cannot derogate from any part of the ECHR,” he
said. “The situation remains that we must look at all of these
issues and see how they fit in with our policies.”