Afghan wins refuge from Daily Express – Athalie Matthews

4 February 2014 by

-0430-POLITICS-Justice.-006The business of the law can tend to harden the heart – but every now and then a case comes along that drives off the spectre of compassion fatigue. This was the effect of a recent libel claim in which I obtained substantial damages and published apologies for a 20-year-old Afghan refugee, Abdul Shizad, who – despite being entirely alone in the UK and having limited English – had the courage to sue the Daily Express, which had falsely accused him of being a “Taliban Suspect”.

The Express’s timing was particularly superlative, its 4 March 2013 article “Now Judges Let Taliban Suspect Stay” coming just a month after Abdul had succeeded in a stressful and exhausting 4 year quest for asylum in the UK.

Accompanied by a most unflattering photograph of two unsuspecting “Judges”, the article lambasted “a new human rights scandal” in which “judges have said a suspected Taliban member can stay in Britain”.

The Express also published “Comments” by its more moderate readers offering suggestions such as “stick him on a transport plane and drop him off at 20,000 feet”, “deploy the explosives and let the pigs clean up what’s left” and “the death penalty should be reinstated.”

But – unfortunately for them – ‘The World’s Greatest Newspaper’ had got it expensively wrong.

Among the primary findings of the First-tier tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber in Abdul’s asylum claim, were that he had himself suffered ill-treatment at the hands of the Taliban and had given credible evidence that the Taliban had tried to recruit him six times and beaten him when he refused.

Importantly, in opposing his asylum claim, at no point had the Home Office ever alleged that he was suspected of being a Taliban member – had it considered this even a remote possibility, it would have had to consider excluding him from asylum protection altogether, which it did not do.

Unsurprisingly, Abdul, who was 15 when he fled his native country and has no idea where his surviving relatives are, was devastated by the article.

As he told me: “I came to this country to escape and for a better life, to work and pay taxes. Now what will people think? Maybe people kill me because of this.”

When pre-action correspondence drew a blank, he began to feel suicidal. But refusing to give up, he ploughed on, instructing service of court proceedings to protect his family name.

It is hard for any of us paper-pushers to imagine what it feels like to effectively receive death threats through the press after travelling across Europe for a year, persuading the Home Office not to relocate you back to a different part of Afghanistan and are 3,500 miles from home working in a pizza restaurant.

But we can try. And so could the press.

This post first appeared on Inforrm’s Blog and is reproduced here with permission and thanks

 

 

3 comments


  1. Wieslaw Ceglowski says:

    Occasionally, very, the quiet heroism of a dedicated human-rights lawyer can make a very big difference. Thank God there are such lawyers, and others in their own spheres honestly trying to ameliorate the damage done by some of their less worthy colleagues.

  2. Rob Foreman says:

    Unfortunately, the Daily Mail is still carrying a story in pretty much the same terms as the Express did –

  3. Tim says:

    Hooray! What a champion!

    When you work iat the offices of the Express you can at least enjoy the comfort of knowing that you cannot possibly sink any lower.

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.

Subscribe

Categories


Disclaimer


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.

Tags


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights 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 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: