R (on the application of Medical Justice) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1925 (Admin) should be a wake up call to civil servants at UKBA and Ministers in the new Government. The High Court declared unlawful the Home Office policy of conducting no notice removals. The judgment lacks the pithy and stirring qualities of the best judgments of the higher courts (this is a first instance judgment, after all, and the issues had not yet been narrowed), but it clearly sets out the principles of the right of access to justice in a democratic society.
Sadly, rather than heed this call, the Home Office has chosen to appeal. The Coalition Government’s record may be better than the last Government – but that isn’t exactly saying much!
The evidence of the excellent Steve Bravery, Sheona York, Jo Swaney and Sonal Ghelani was accepted, which was that it is impossible to give legal assistance to a person inside a 72 hour period, never mind once they are in a van on the way to the airport. Mr Justice Silber holds that this is a breach of the right of access to the courts, itself a fundamental component of the rule of law. Interestingly, the judgment explicitly reserves judgment on whether even 72 hours is sufficient notice to comply with the right of access to the courts.
See here for previous related posts.