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Thursday, 04 October 2018

Child refugee charity scores partial victory in court challenge but 480 cap remains

Written by Sian Harrison

A charity has scored a partial victory in the Court of Appeal against the Home Office over its handling of unaccompanied child refugees.

Following a challenge by Help Refugees, senior judges ruled that a number of child asylum seekers assessed for transfer to the UK under an amendment moved by Lord Alf Dubs, were given "patently inadequate" reasons for being refused entry.

However, the number of UK places for child refugees will remain capped at 480 after the charity failed to convince the court that the Government's consultation with local authorities was defective.

Last year the charity sought orders to force then-home secretary Amber Rudd to abandon the cap and reopen the consultation, so consideration could be given to allowing more children in.

But judges at the High Court in London ruled against the charity in November, saying they were "not persuaded" its case was made out.

That ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal, with Lord Justice Hickinbottom ruling the consultation was "not unlawful".

However, the judge, sitting with Lord Justice McCombe and Lady Justice King, said those children refused places in the UK were given "patently inadequate" reasons for the refusal.

Lord Alf Dubs (pictured) said: "For two years, we have fought tooth and nail for the rights of these vulnerable children.

"Today, I'm relieved to say that it was worth it.

"Every unaccompanied child we have turned away deserves an explanation and a chance to appeal the decision, and we're delighted to courts have agreed with us on that.

"The decision gives some hope to thousands of vulnerable child refugees in Europe."

The Dubs Amendment was to the 2016 Immigration Act and, from May last year, required the Home Secretary to make arrangements to relocate "a specified number" of vulnerable refugee children from Europe based on feedback from local authorities.

The Government increased the number of children to be relocated under the scheme from 350 to 480 in February last year.

A Home Office spokesman said: "This judgment confirms that the Government's consultation with local authorities, in which they said they could provide 480 places for eligible children from Europe, was lawful.

"We continue to accept further referrals and transfers are ongoing.

"We will continue to work closely with participating states, local authorities and other partners to relocate eligible children here quickly and safely."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.