Immigration – dispersal – article 8 – human rights – NASS
TB, a 22 year old Jamaican had arrived in the UK at the age of 10. She had lived in London for 11 years, initially with her mother, but had been taken into foster care for a period, due to the poor care she was receiving. Thereafter, she was looked after by a friend.
TB attended school in London, had held several jobs after leaving school, and had been provided with a council flat; but her immigration status was not questioned until January 2001 when she was offered a job by the Benefits Agency. On advice from her solicitors, TB then applied for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, claiming that to return her to Jamaica would be a breach of her art 3 and art 8 rights under the Convention. Since her status was put in doubt, TB had been unable to work and she therefore made an application to NASS to pay subsistence and to pay the rent on her council flat.
TB was then informed that the Secretary of State was of the view that dispersal to a suitable area would be appropriate in her case. Her submissions that her attempts to rebuild her relationship with her mother and the reliance she placed on her network of friends, particularly in helping to look after her baby, were sufficient compelling reasons why she should not be removed from London, were rejected.
In reaching his decision, the judge pointed out that the failure to appreciate that she was not in the UK lawfully, in the sense that she had never been given permission to stay, was not in any way TB’s fault: she had been brought in at the age of 10, when she could not be expected to know anything about the details of the immigration requirements; had remained in this country and had assumed (as had the local authority, and virtually everyone else) that she was here lawfully and that she was making her life here.
The judge went on the find that the Secretary of State had totally failed to deal properly with the point that TB had lived in that particular area of London all her life, that she was hoping to achieve a relationship with her mother after years of estrangement and that the friends upon whom she relied were essential to her well-being. It would not, he said, have required much imagination to appreciate that removal from London was likely to have a substantially adverse effect on TB having regard to her background, the history and the circumstances of being required to bring up a baby with no family support but with the support of close friends who were available to her in the area. He concluded that, in the exceptional factual circumstances of this particular case, the application of the dispersal policy was a breach of TB’s rights under art 8 of the Convention.
The judge further found that, on ordinary common law principles, it was difficult to see how anyone could rationally reach the conclusion that the factual matrix did not constitute exceptional circumstances.