A team of lawyers led by Richard Gordon QC of Brick Court Chambers is planning to make a third-party intervention on a pro bono basis into a Court of Appeal case concerning immigration detainees. Gordon will be appearing on behalf of refugee groups that have concerns over the rights of children detained in holding camps in the UK before their asylum applications are considered.
The intervention in ID v The Home Office relates to a case that has its origins in a fire on 14 February 2002 at Yarlswood, the asylum-seeker holding centre in Bedford. A number of families were trapped in locked rooms during the fire and several consequently made claims for forced imprisonment and negligence. One has subsequently become a test case.
Nadine Finch, a junior at 2 Garden Court who is also part of the legal team, explained that two months ago the Refugee Children’s Consortium expressed an interest in making an intervention because it was concerned about the detention of children among asylum seekers. “As it turned out, the consortium as a whole couldn’t make the intervention, which is basically a comment that could add value to a case, because it wouldn’t have had the time. But parts of the group, which are smaller, could,” says Finch. “We’re acting for the two groups that are making the intervention, Bail for Immigration Detainees and the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, jointly.”
The family in the original case was advised by Bhatt Murphy partner Mark Scott at the Central London County Court earlier this year. On the intervention into the appeal, Harriet Wistrich of London firm Birnberg Peirce & Partners has instructed Gordon. The Brick Court silk will claim that part of the Home Office’s case against the family was unlawful, partly on the grounds of forced imprisonment and partly on the grounds of negligence in relation to the fire.
According to Wistrich, the judgment is likely to have wide ramifications. “This case and others like it aren’t specifically about children, but children can be and are involved,” she said. “They can be detained as well, often in the more extreme cases. The cases also raise issues of torture and mental health problems, which can be exacerbated by detention.”
The Brick Court team also includes Richard Herner, junior counsel from Doughty Street. The appeal hearing is sheduled for 22 November.