At the start of the year, some 1,200 immigrants were being held in immigration detention in the UK. The power to detain immigrants is separate from detention of individuals as part of a criminal sentence. There is a presumption against detention of immigrants and immigration detention, which can only be in accordance with one of the statutory powers (the majority of which are contained in the Immigration Act 1971 and the Immigration and Asylum Act 2002), and is allowed in the interests of maintaining effective immigration control, for example, to effect removal; to establish a person’s identity or the basis of their immigration claim; or where there is reason to believe that the person will fail to comply with any conditions attached to a grant of immigration bail.
In order to be lawful, not only must immigration detention be in accordance with one of the statutory powers, but it must also be in accordance with the limitations implied by the domestic common law and Strasbourg case law (ECHR Article 5), as well as with stated Home Office policy. Under the common law and ECHR Article 5, the statutory powers to detain are to be strictly and narrowly construed, i.e. if detention is not for a statutory purpose (or is no longer for that purpose) it will become unlawful. Additionally, the power to detain is impliedly limited to a period that is reasonably necessary for the statutory purpose to be carried out and must be justiﬁed in all the circumstances of the individual case, requiring an assessment of individual factors such as the risk of absconding, the likelihood of imminent removal, and the impact on the detainee.
An application for urgent interim relief was made by the Detention Action Group in March for the release of some 736 immigrants in detention and was advanced, first in relation to those whose removal is not reasonably imminent as a result of the global pandemic and the consequential travel bans and restrictions around the world, and secondly in relation to vulnerable detainees such as those who are suffering from serious medical conditions or who are aged 70 and over.
A separate application for urgent interim relief was made by Samson Bello, a Nigerian deportee, seeking release from detention on the basis that restrictions to travel to Nigeria meant that his continued detention for the purposes of removal was no longer lawful. Both of these cases are discussed in detail below.
Following an Article 2 inquest into the tragic death of Prince Fosu, a vulnerable foreign national detained in an immigration removal centre, a jury has found that Mr Fosu’s death was avoidable and was caused by a number of gross failures on the part of the Home Office and various agencies to provide appropriate care in immigration detention at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.
Mr Fosu, a car parts dealer from Ghana, entered the UK in April 2012 on a valid business visa. However, on arrival, he was refused leave to enter. His subsequent in-country appeal was rejected in September 2012 and he was booked on a flight to leave the UK on 5 November 2012.
A month after his unsuccessful appeal, he was arrested after walking naked on the road. He continued to act bizarrely at the police station and kept undressing. However, following assessment, mental health professionals at the station determined that he did not need to be sectioned and was fit for detention. When he urinated in his cell, he was seemingly labelled as a “dirty protestor” rather than being re-referred for medical assessment. After three days in police custody, Mr Fosu was transferred to Harmondsworth on the basis that he had overstayed his stay and was liable to immigration removal.
The wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle and the start of the first phase of hearings in the Grenfell Inquiry occurred within hours of each other but could not have been more different in terms of how they were received by the British public.
By welcoming into its ranks a biracial, divorced, professional American actress, the Royal Family appears to have gained some much needed legitimacy, and the very modern Royal wedding, undeniably a celebration of diversity, is perhaps a sign that this bit of the British Establishment is moving with the times.
The start of the Grenfell Inquiry — almost a year after the fire on 14 June 2017 which claimed 71 lives — has not been met with such optimism nor enjoyed such accolades. Instead, from the moment the question of who would chair it arose, the Inquiry has been dogged by accusations of “whitewashing”, a persistent failure to listen to the victims and bereaved, and a failure to give them a proper voice.
Is there any hope that the Grenfell Inquiry will finally gain legitimacy? As with the successful McPherson Inquiry following the Stephen Lawrence murder, recognition of diversity and inclusivity are essential.
In announcing the Terms of Reference, the Prime Minister indicated that, at that stage, she had not appointed any other members to the Inquiry Panel but she noted that the Inquiries Act 2005 did allow for such appointments to be made with the consent of Sir Martin, during the course of the Inquiry, so that the composition of the Inquiry Panel could be “kept under review”.
R (ota Mr Samuel Daniels) v The Rt Hon Theresa May, the Prime Minister & Sir Martin Moore-Bick  EWHC (1090) Admin — read judgment
On various dates commencing in September 2017, solicitors representing Mr Daniels, the son of an elderly disabled man who died in the Grenfell fire wrote to Sir Martin, the Solicitor to the Inquiry, and the Prime Minister, asking whether the Prime Minister would exercise her powers under s7 of the Inquiries Act to appoint a panel to sit alongside Sir Martin.
Mirza and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 63 – read judgment and press summary here.
The background to each of these appeals, although unfortunate, is not in any way extraordinary. Indeed, it is perhaps quite common for those applying for leave to remain to fall foul of procedural requirements or to be caught out by one of the many frequent changes in the legislative scheme governing immigration.
Whereas in most cases the solution may be simply to correct the procedural defect and make a further application, matters become much more complicated for those who apply too close to the date on which their leave to remain expires.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision makes clear that s.3C of the Immigration Act 1971 does not automatically extend a person’s leave to remain. Where leave expires in between the defective application and the fresh one an applicant will simply have run out of time for correction. This was the situation in which all three appellants found themselves.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department v Respondent  UKUT B1 – Read judgment
There has been public outrage over the ruling of two Senior Immigration Judges that it would be unlawful to deport Aso Mohammed Ibrahim, an Iraqi Kurd, who has been labelled an “asylum seeker death driver”
The fury has not been limited to the lay public or the media, but “great anger” has also been expressed by high-profile figures such as Prime Minister David Cameron, a well-known critic of the Human Rights Act. The Government’s embarrassment over the decision has prompted Immigration Minister, Damian Green, to announce that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) will appeal the decision, and there have been more drastic calls from Tory MPs for the scrapping of the Human Rights Act.
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