Many thanks to the leaver of a comment left on an earlier post on HS (Zimbabwe) for this. The result of this important test case seems to have appeared with no fanfare on the AIT website, in the unreported determinations section. It isn’t yet listed as a Country Guideline case and there has been no announcement in the press nor any circulars amongst immigration lawyers (unless I’ve been taken off everyone’s Christmas card lists, anyway).
The result: we lost.
Zimbabwean asylum seekers do not become refugees by the act of claiming asylum in the UK. See, for example, paragraph 279: “We do not accept either that all those seen as having claimed asylum in the United Kingdom will be thought to be supporters of the MDC on that account alone.”
See here [edit: link now broken, AIT has removed determination, see next post for download] for the determination. See here for an earlier post describing the background to the case, including a Bonus Rant on the country guideline system generally.
This is unlikely to be the end of the matter and I am certain that the top notch HS team will be looking to appeal this yet again. In a determination as long as this, it is difficult to avoid committing some sort of error of law somewhere, after all. The adage about giving oneself sufficient rope with which to hang oneself comes to mind.
In the meantime, the Home Office will almost certainly try and recommence removals to Zimbabwe, although the numbers are likely to be small to start with. The determination is also likely to have negative implications for welfare support for failed Zimbabwean asylum seekers, many of whom are likely to find they are no longer eligible under section 4 of the 1999 Act or whose fresh claims will now be rejected by the Home Office, leaving them with no support.