Home Office fails in bid to overturn Section 55 ruling

The government failed in its attempt to overturn a court ruling that it breached the human rights of three asylum seekers this week.

The House of Lords unanimously upheld a previous appeal court ruling that section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 breached Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights by denying the asylum seekers support if they failed to make their claim “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

The appeal court ruling forced the government was forced to change the policy in the summer of 2004. Under the revised approach the National Asylum Support Service provides support to claimants unless it is satisfied they have an alternative source of help available.

Maeve Sherlock, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “We are delighted with this unanimous judgement. It was disgraceful that vulnerable refugees were left to starve in the streets.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Law Lords have recognised that there are difficult decisions to be made and each case has to be judged on its individual merits. We will study very carefully their judgment and consider whether we need to make any adjustments to our existing procedures and processes.”

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