More poor human rights reporting in “killer of Gurkha’s son” deportation case

17 January 2011 by

Immigration and deportation decisions are regularly used to attack the Human Rights Act, and are raised as examples of why it must be amended or replaced. But a recent deportation case shows that such decisions are often poorly reported and articles ignore crucial details.

Yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph reported on the case of a man who killed a Gurkha soldier’s son and cannot be deported because of human rights law. According to David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent, the controversial decision will “intensify pressure” on the prime minister “who has so far failed to deliver a Conservative promise to rip up the Human Rights Act.”

There are a number of key details missing or effectively ignored by the article.

First, the title: Killer of Gurkha’s son wins right to stay in Britain. Whilst much is made of the victim’s Gurkha background, it is not until towards the end of the article that it is revealed that Rocky Gurang, the appellant (referred to in the article as “the killer”) who had been convicted of manslaughter, himself was the son of a long-serving Gurkha soldier. This fact is made clear in the first paragraph of the Upper Tribunal decision itself (RG (Automatic deport Section 33(2) (a) exception) Nepal), and forms the essential background of the appellant’s case under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life).

The appellant’s father was granted indefinite leave to enter and remain in the UK in 2005 after serving with the Gurkhas for 18 years. His immediate family also relocated to the UK. This background was central to the decision, and his father – who was working as a bus-driver, paying the mortgage on his house in the UK, as well as supporting his son financially – gave evidence that he and his wife would have to return to Nepal with their son if he were deported.

A second aspect which is not made clear is the reasons for the decision not to deport. Much is made of the emphasis placed on the appellant’s family life, but it is also important to understand what this was being balanced against: namely, public safety. According to the article, Rocky Gurung and a gang of friends threw Bishal into the river in what the trial judge described as an “unprovoked and senseless episode” However, the Tribunal stressed the criminal trial judge’s sentencing remarks:

there was no premeditation, there was no weapon carried or used, there was no intent to cause really serious bodily harm, and the appellant on the evidence recorded by the judge in his detailed sentencing remarks, had not instigated the act which caused death, namely throwing the deceased into the Thames

The tribunal accepted that public safety was a legitimate aim for a decision to deport, and which could justify breaching rights to family life under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But, whilst his crime was a serious one, it was “not of the degree of seriousness that required a severe sentence or a recommendation for deportation“.

Ultimately, the tribunal stressed that the regime of automatic deportation requires a careful, case-by-case approach. This includes “a very careful consideration of the seriousness of the offence and the extent to which the deportation can be said to enhance public protection on the one hand and the impact upon private and family life on the other“. The fact is that whilst some may wish to deport all immigrants who commit serious offences (see the comments under the Sunday Telegraph article), the punishment must fit the crime, and exiling a person to a country where they have no ties is a very serious punishment indeed and should not be imposed lightly.

The “very careful consideration” of cases in the immigration tribunals is lost in articles which emphasise one side at the expense of the other. The Sunday Telegraph quotes at length the views of the victim’s family, an MP campaigning for the repeal of the Human Rights Act and the views of a controversial anti-immigration pressure group, MigrationWatch. Almost nothing is made of the appellant’s case, or the views of his family.

The decision was made in August of 2010, but is being reported now as it is linked to proposals by Conservative MP Dominic Raab, a former chief of staff to David Davis and author of a book advocating a new bill of rights, to reform human rights laws. Raab, also a former lawyer, said “Judges are no longer just applying the law – they are making it up as they go”.

It would seem that some articles on human rights law are falling into the same trap. We have highlighted two other recent examples. In November, many newspapers including the Telegraph reported that the failure to deport Learco Chindamo, the killer of headmaster Philip Lawrence, was because of human rights law. But in fact, as I posted, human rights was only a secondary aspect of his case which was really about EU freedom of movement law.

And, more recently, the case of an “asylum seeker death driver” Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, caused public outrage and “great anger” from the prime minister. But again, the case was misunderstood.

The Telegraph, along with other newspapers such as The Sun and the Daily Express, have a clear and open editorial agenda to scrap the Human Rights Act. Fair enough. But cases such as Rocky Gurang’s are presented as news in articles which are mixed with opinion. Newspapers are entitled to pursue an editorial line, but removing the distinction between opinion and news means that the general public, who understandably have little knowledge of the complex immigration system or indeed of human rights law, are left with a skewed picture.

The problem may be caused in part by the decline of the legal correspondent. As Joshua Rozenberg, probably Britain’s best known legal commentator, said in a recent Legal Week article, many national newspapers no longer have a designated legal correspondent, meaning that the “newspapers don’t provide the service they did“. The result is that the shrill reporting of some cases jars with the nuance of judge’s decisions. Of course, some judges make bad decisions. But if the decisions are badly reported, they will not be exposed to accurate scrutiny.

The effect of the lack of legal expertise at some newspapers, combined with a strong editorial agenda which leaks into “news” articles, is to confuse and over-simplify issues. The result will be that many members of the public could be locked into a permanent distrust of human rights legislation, even if it is reformed. And this would be bad news for everyone.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related posts


  1. Alistair Sloan says:

    It’s something I have been found to be ranting about to whoever will listen and who is of the opinion that the Human Rights Act should be scrapped. I had a very interesting discussion with a Police Inspector who was frustrated with the HRA, but after a brief discussion she was able to see the distinction between what happens in reality and what is actually reported.

    I’m all for freedom of the press, but they must report things in a fair, balanced and accurate way. Twisting a case into something it is not in order to further your editorial policy is not reporting nor is it journalism. It is simply writing a work of fiction that is loosely based on real life events.

    1. Sorsha says:

      I definitely agree that newspapers like the Sun overstep the mark on a daily basis… but i dont think scrapping the entire HRA is the best solution. Freedom of press is still important to prevent a situation experienced by South Korea, but greater reprimands for libel are definitely necessary. If someone rings up with a claim they dont even bother to check if its true, they just print it!! That’s not even LOOSELY based on anything real… (Btw, I heard that on radio one, I havent bothered to check if it’s true either… how ironic).

  2. Law Think says:

    Very enjoyable article. Unfortunately, however, I think you might be preaching to the converted.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




7/7 Bombings 9/11 A1P1 Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology birds directive blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common buzzard common law communications competition confidentiality confiscation order conscientious objection consent conservation constitution contact order contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs costs budgets Court of Protection crime criminal law Criminal Legal Aid criminal records Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty declaration of incompatibility defamation DEFRA Democracy village deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention devolution Dignitas dignity Dignity in Dying diplomacy director of public prosecutions disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA doctors does it matter? domestic violence Dominic Grieve don't ask don't ask don't tell don't tell Doogan and Wood double conviction drones duty of care ECHR economic and social rights economic loss ECtHR Education election Employment Environment environmental information Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Family Family life fatal accidents act Fertility FGM Finance fishing rights foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression freedom of information Freedom of Information Act 2000 freedom of movement freedom of speech free speech game birds gangbo gang injunctions Garry Mann gary dobson Gary McFarlane gay discrimination Gay marriage gay rights gay soldiers Gaza Gaza conflict Gender General Dental Council General Election General Medical Council genetic discrimination genetic engineering genetic information genetics genetic testing Germany Google government Grenfell grooming Gun Control gwyneth paltrow gypsies habitats habitats protection hammerton v uk happy new year Hardeep Singh Haringey Council Harkins and Edwards Health healthcare health insurance Heathrow heist heightened scrutiny Henry VII Henry VIII hereditary disorder Hirst v UK HIV HJ Iran HM (Iraq) v The Secretary of state for the home department [2010] EWCA Civ 1322 Holder holkham beach holocaust Home Office Home Office v Tariq homeopathy hooding Hounslow v Powell House of Commons Housing housing benefits Howard League for Penal Reform how judges decide cases hra damages claim HRLA HS2 hs2 challenge hts Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority human genome human rights Human Rights Act Human Rights Act 1998 human rights advocacy Human rights and the UK constitution human rights commission human rights conventions human rights damages Human Rights Day human rights decisions Human Rights Information Project human rights news Human Rights Watch human right to education human trafficking hunting Huntington's Disease HXA hyper injunctions Igor Sutyagin illegality defence immigration Immigration/Extradition Immigration Act 2014 immigration appeals immigration detention immigration judge immigration rules immunity India Indonesia Infrastructure Planning Committee inherited disease Inhuman and degrading treatment injunction Inquest Inquests insurance insurmountable obstacles intelligence services act intercept evidence interception interim remedies international international criminal court international law international treaty obligations internet internet service providers internship inuit investigation investigative duty in vitro fertilisation Iran Iranian nuclear program Iraq Iraqi asylum seeker Iraq War Ireland irrationality islam Israel Italy iTunes IVF ivory ban jackson reforms Janowiec and Others v Russia ( Japan Jason Smith Jeet Singh Jeremy Corbyn jeremy hunt job Jogee John Hemming John Terry joint enterprise joint tenancy Jon Guant Joseph v Spiller journalism judaism judges Judges and Juries judging Judicial activism judicial brevity judicial deference judicial review Judicial Review reform judiciary Julian Assange jurisdiction jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Act Justice and Security Bill Justice and Security Green Paper Justice Human Rights Awards JUSTICE Human Rights Awards 2010 just satisfaction Katyn Massacre Kay v Lambeth Kay v UK Ken Clarke Kerry McCarthy Kettling Kings College koran burning Labour Lady Hale LASPO Law Pod UK Law Society of Scotland leave to enter leave to remain legal aid legal aid cuts Legal Aid Reforms legal blogs Legal Certainty legal naughty step Legal Ombudsman legal representation legitimate expectation let as a dwelling Leveson Inquiry Levi Bellfield lewisham hospital closure lgbtq liability Libel libel reform Liberal Democrat Conference Liberty libraries closure library closures Libya licence conditions licence to shoot life insurance life sentence limestone pavements lisbon treaty Lithuania Litigation litvinenko live exports local authorities locked in syndrome London Legal Walk London Probation Trust Lord Bingham Lord Blair Lord Goldsmith lord irvine Lord Judge speech Lord Kerr Lord Lester Lord Neuberger Lord Phillips Lord Sumption Lord Taylor luftur rahman MAGA Magna Carta mail on sunday Majority Verdict Malcolm Kennedy malice Margaret Thatcher Margin of Appreciation margin of discretion Maria Gallastegui marriage material support maternity pay Matthew Woods Maya the Cat Mba v London Borough Of Merton McKenzie friend Media and Censorship Medical medical liability medical negligence medical qualifications medical records medicine mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act 2005 Mental Health mental health act mental health advocacy mental health awareness Mental illness merits review MGN v UK michael gove Midwives migrant crisis Milly Dowler Ministerial Code Ministry of Justice Ministry of Justice cuts misfeasance in public office modern slavery morality morocco mortuaries motherhood Motor Neurone disease Moulton Mousa MP expenses Mr Gul Mr Justice Eady MS (Palestinian Territories) (FC) (Appellant) v Secretary of State for the Home Department murder murder reform Musician's Union Muslim NADA v. SWITZERLAND - 10593/08 - HEJUD [2012] ECHR 1691 naked rambler Naomi Campbell nationality National Pro Bono Week national security Natural England nature conservation naturism Nazi negligence Neuberger neuroscience Newcastle university news new Supreme Court President NHS NHS Risk Register Nick Clegg Nicklinson Niqaab Noise Regulations 2005 Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance nursing nursing home Obituary Occupy London offensive jokes Offensive Speech offensive t shirt oil spill olympics open justice oppress OPQ v BJM orchestra Osama Bin Laden paramountcy principle parental rights parenthood parliamentary expenses parliamentary expenses scandal Parliamentary sovereignty Parliament square parole board pastor Terry Jones patents Pathway Students Patrick Quinn murder Pensions persecution personal data Personal Injury personality rights perversity Peter and Hazelmary Bull PF and EF v UK Phil Woolas phone hacking phone taps physical and mental disabilities physician assisted death Pinnock Piracy Plagiarism planning planning human rights planning system plebgate POCA podcast points Poland Police police investigations police liability police misconduct police powers police surveillance Policy Exchange report political judges Politics Politics/Public Order poor reporting Pope portal possession proceedings power of attorney PoW letters to ministers pre-nup pre-nuptial Pre-trial detention predator control pregnancy press press briefing press freedom Prince Charles prince of wales princess caroline of monaco principle of subsidiarity prior restraint prison Prisoners prisoners rights prisoners voting prisoner vote prisoner votes prisoner voting Prisons prison vote privacy privacy injunction privacy law through the front door Private life private nuisance private use proceeds of crime Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecution Protection of Freedoms Act Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest protest camp protest rights Protocol 15 psychiatric hospitals Public/Private public access publication public authorities Public Bodies Bill public inquiries public interest public interest environmental litigation public interest immunity Public Order Public Sector Equality Duty putting the past behind quango quantum quarantine Queen's Speech queer in the 21st century R (on the application of) v The General Medical Council [2013] EWHC 2839 (Admin) R (on the application of EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 2569 (Admin) Rabone and another v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust [2012] UKSC 2 race relations Rachel Corrie Radmacher Raed Salah Mahajna Raed Saleh Ramsgate raptors rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion resuscitation RightsInfo right to die right to family life right to life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials security services sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa south african constitution Spain special advocates spending cuts Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax Taxi technology Terrorism terrorism act tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vaccination vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: