The Weekly Round-Up: Nazanin returns, P&O face protests, and Met “likely” racist
21 March 2022
In the news:
British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to the UK on Thursday, after being imprisoned in Iran for spying, which she and the British government deny. Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was originally arrested in April 2016 and sentenced to five years in prison for alleged plots to overthrow the Iranian government, which she also denies. In April 2021 she was sentenced to another year in jail for spying. Attempts by the British government, including the Prime Minister, to secure her release had previously failed but an improving UK-Iran relationship, including the settlement of a £400m debt Iran claimed the UK owed, may have contributed to her release last week. Several more dual nationals remain imprisoned in Iran, including Iranian-British-American wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, charged with “co-operating with the hostile state of the US”.
Labour has called for Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to take legal action against P&O Ferries, who last week sacked 800 workers without warning through a pre-recorded video. Under section 193 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, employers must notify the business secretary if they intend to make over 100 people redundant, at least 45 days in advance. Kwarteng has written to P&O Ferries and given them until 5pm 22 March to respond, before issuing a formal complaint to the prosecuting authorities. Meanwhile, Labour has called for the government to nationalize P&O and will force an emergency vote on workers’ rights in Parliament. Protests were held at ports around the UK over the weekend and are intended to continue this week.
In other news:
On Tuesday, Hackney Council published its Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review report into a police strip-search of a black teenage girl, known as Child Q, in her school. It found that whilst searching the girl’s belongings was justified interference with her Article 8 right to privacy, racism was a likely influencing factor in the decision to strip-search her whilst she was on her period, a procedure which should never have happened. The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating the Met Police’s actions.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to release the results of a review of its safeguarding procedures, which ended in 2019. The review is expected to give insight into the deaths of people wrongly denied benefits, including Errol Graham, who starved to death after the DWP wrongly stopped his out-of-work disability benefits. The coroner in the Graham’s case decided not to issue a prevention of future deaths (PFD) report to demand urgent improvements to DWP’s safeguarding procedures, because she was told the DWP was already conducting a review of those procedures. The DWP later claimed the review was exempt from publication under the Freedom of Information Act, as it related to the formulation of government policy. Now the ICO has ordered its release and accused the DWP of taking “a defensive position” in the matter.
In the courts:
- EOG & Anor v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 307 – EOG and KTT alleged that their treatment under the Home Office’s discretionary leave policy guidance was contrary to the European Convention Against Trafficking (ECAT). EOG was a “potential victim of trafficking” and KTT was a “confirmed victim of trafficking”. Both challenged the Home Office policy went against article 10(2) of ECAT, which states that people reasonably believed to be trafficking victims should not be removed from the territory “until the identification process as victim…has been completed.” The court found that insofar as the policy intended to comply with ECAT, an unincorporated treaty which does not form part of domestic law, breaches of ECAT would be justiciable. For EOG, the court found that the Article 10 obligation not to remove potential victims was not an obligation to issue a residence permit and that, in EOG’s case, leave to remain was not obligatory. For KTT, who was also an asylum-seeker, the court found that Article 14 of ECAT requires that a confirmed victim of trafficking who is also an asylum-seeker, must be granted leave to remain.
- R (MD and EH) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 336 – the Court of Appeal held that it was not unlawfully discriminatory to deny additional financial support to human trafficking victims who have children and receive asylum support. MD and EH are Albanian single mothers who were victims of sex trafficking. They received asylum support pending their asylum claim decisions and were therefore not eligible to receive Victim of Trafficking dependent child support in addition. The women claimed this directly discriminated against their specific situation and indirectly discriminated against women, who are the majority of single parents. The High Court found for the claimants on both forms of discrimination but the Court of Appeal found there was no financial loss to the claimants, who received the same amount of support but under a different route.
- Zubaydah v Foreign And Commonwealth Office & Ors  EWCA Civ 334 – the appellant had been detained and tortured in six countries by the US Central Intelligence Service (CIA). He claimed that the British Security Service and Secret Intelligence Service (“the Services”) had sent questions to the CIA for use in their interrogations, knowing that he would be subject to extreme mistreatment and torture as a result. He alleged the defendant Foreign and Commonwealth Office was vicariously liable for torts committed by the Services, including misfeasance in public office, conspiracy to injure, trespass to the person, false imprisonment, and negligence. This was a determination of the applicable law. The court held that the High Court judge has wrongly found the applicable law to be the laws of the six countries. The judge should have found that the significance of the factors connecting the torts with England and Wales was substantial, but that of factors in connection with the other countries was minimal. The applicable law was therefore the law of England and Wales.
On the UKHRB: