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Deportation of father not “unduly harsh” on child in loving home

Deportation of father not “unduly harsh” on child in loving home

A Jamaican man who has been in the UK for over 20 years must be deported, the Court of Appeal has confirmed. The court held that Logan Reid, 51, had not established that his deportation would be “unduly harsh” on his teenage son, given the child’s otherwise stable home life. The case is Reid v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2021] EWCA Civ 1158.

Mr Reid had been removed or deported from the UK several times since first arriving in perhaps 1994, only to return on a false passport each time. He did not “claim that he has ever spent any time in the UK lawfully”. Nevertheless, he managed to evade detection for five or six years after 1999, during which time he had two sons born in the UK.

In 2005, he was convicted of firearms and other offences and sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment. The Home Office began renewed deportation proceedings in 2017. 

As is often the case when a disputed deportation reaches the Court of Appeal, the two levels of the immigration tribunal had reached different conclusions. The First-tier Tribunal had allowed Mr Reid’s appeal against deportation, citing his right to a family life. The Upper Tribunal reversed that decision, backing the Home Office refusal of the human rights claim.

The Court of Appeal set out the relevant legal tests to be applied in a case like this:

a) Would it be unduly harsh for [Mr Reid’s youngest son] to live in Jamaica, and would it be unduly harsh for the child to remain in the UK without Mr. Reid?

b) If the answer to (a) above is No, then are there very compelling circumstances outweighing the public interest in deportation beyond those considered at (a) above, see Rule 398?

c) Are there exceptional circumstances which mean that the deportation order signed on 14 April 1998 (which he breached when entering the UK on two occasions…) should not be enforced despite the terms of paragraph 399D applying?

The First-tier Tribunal judge does not seem to have approached the case in this way. Among other things, she considered whether deportation would have been “unduly harsh” on Mr Reid himself. That, Lord Justice Edis held, was to focus on the wrong person:

The “unduly harsh” test has nothing to do with the impact of deportation on Mr Reid. There never was a close concentration on the harshness to the qualifying child of the deportation of Mr. Reid, and whether the degree of harshness which would be caused to him would be “undue”. That, in my judgment, was a sufficient error of law to justify the UT setting the decision aside and re-making it. [Emphasis added]

There was, in any event, “nothing in the facts of this case which was properly capable of justifying a finding that Mr. Reid’s deportation would be unduly harsh to the qualifying child” (his younger son). Edis LJ went on:

no doubt… there is a risk that separation from his father will destabilise the qualifying child. He was, however, 16 years old and he had not lived full time with his father for many years. His parents’ relationship broke down in 2006. He lives with his mother and siblings in what appears to be a supportive and close family… it appears clear from the social worker’s report and the FTT findings that the qualifying child enjoys a close, loving, and supportive relationship with his mother. That is bound to alleviate the harshness of an enforced separation from his father.

Readers may have noticed at the outset that Mr Reid had been out of prison for something like a decade before hearing again from the Home Office in 2017. But this delay, the court held, was not legally relevant to the issue of harshness to the child.

CJ McKinney is Free Movement's editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering pitches. CJ is an adviser on legal and policy matters to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, and keeps up with the wider legal world as a contributor to Legal Cheek. Twitter: @mckinneytweets.