The Court of Appeal has overturned the fruity findings of Anthony Thornton QC in the case of R (on the application of Patel) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWCA Civ 645. The case was widely reported at the time, including on this blog (Family visitor receives £125,000 damages for mistreatment by immigration officials. The findings of fact and the award of £125,000 in damages are overturned and a new trial ordered:
Despite the glaring shortcomings in the way in which the Secretary of State chose to advance her case, therefore, I do not think that the judge was entitled on the limited evidence before him to make findings of outright dishonesty, malicious behaviour and conspiracy on the part of the various individuals concerned.
The result on appeal is not a total surprise. In my write up at the time I said:
I confess to feeling a sense of unease as I read the judgment. It took me a while to work out why: it bears some similarities to asylum decisions where civil servants or judges ascribe motives to various actors and make simplistic assumptions about the motivation for behaviour. Generally with the Home Office, incompetence is to blame rather than conspiracy and for at least some of the actions by the immigration officials involved in this case, ignorance and incompetence are potentially plausible explanations for their actions.