It was with considerable pleasure that I read in the paper this morning that the HSMP Forum has won its challenge to the Home Office’s heavy-handed and inconsiderate change to the HSMP rules. I could use stronger language, but I’ll leave it to Mr Justice Bean, who decided the case: an ‘abuse of power’.
Essentially, he decides that a promise was made to those that were enticed to enter the UK under the scheme and leave behind them their jobs in order to make new lives for themselves and their families here in the UK. The promise was simply that the rules under which they entered the UK would be the rules under which their settlement applications would be decided in four years’ time. In fact, the Home Office proceeded to pull the rug out from under their feet and tightened up the rules considerably, preventing many from qualifying for settlement.
Mr Justice Bean, sitting in the Administrative Court of the High Court, found that there was a legitimate expectation on the part of the migrants. Contrast this with the earlier decision by Ms Arfon-Jones, Deputy President of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, that there was no such legitimate expectation. Exactly the same guidance was quoted in both cases (the redoubtable Margaret Phelan being instructed in both cases probably helped). Why is it that yet again the AIT is being shown to be so wilfully conservative by the higher courts? Several months have gone by between the two decisions and many cases will have followed the first case and been unsuccessful in that time. I hope none of those involved ended up leaving the country in despair (who could blame them?) or were subjected to the indignity of detention and removal.