Two asylum seekers, aged 24 and 25, who pretended to be children WIN High Court battle against council who doubted claims and left them in a hotel for adults before carrying out age check
- The three asylum seekers arrived in the UK in August and September last year
- Home Office thought they were all over 25 so placed them in adult Holiday Inn
- But all three said they were children and Brent Council agreed to do assessment
- It sparked legal rule that meant they should been treated as minors until test
- Assessment came back and said two of them were over 24-years-old
- High Court judge said they should have been treated children until test result
- One of the three was a child and was only 16 and should not have been in hotel
- The council could face costs and relief payments now the judge has ruled
Asylum-seekers who posed as children won a High Court battle with a council for leaving them in adult accommodation – despite them both now being ruled as being over 24.
They were among three males who arrived in the UK in August and September last year and all placed in the Holiday Inn in Wembley.
The Home Office decided to house the trio in the hotel, which was was designated for adults and had around 180 others already there.
Two were from Afghanistan and one from Sudan and it was believed they were all over 25.
But later all three – who arrived at different times and did not know each other – contacted Brent Council saying they were children and it agreed they should all have age assessments.
And today High Court Judge Mr Justice Poole ruled the council had acted unlawfully, because it did not treat them as minors from that moment.
He said because it had agreed they should be age-assessed, it triggered statutory guidance that meant they should be treated as minors until the tests came back.
This is despite the age-assessments later ruling one of the Afghanistan migrants was 24 and the Sudan refugee was 25. The other Afghani national was a child and aged just 16.
Home Office thought three were all over 25 so placed them in adult-designated Holiday Inn
All three said they were children and Brent Council agreed to do assessment, sparking law
This latest ruling comes a year after parents feared a grown man had started a school
The judge, who is based in London, outlined his reasoning in a written ruling published on Monday after considering arguments at a High Court hearing earlier this month.
He said there was no evidence ‘putative children’ at the hotel were ‘safeguarded against risk from adult strangers’ and no evidence that any account was taken of promoting the three asylum-seekers’ welfare.
Lawyers representing the council told the judge that the three asylum-seekers had been provided with appropriate accommodation and said their ‘physical appearance and demeanour’ were strongly suggestive of an ‘adult male of at least 25 years old’.
Mr Justice Poole said each of the three had now been ‘ age assessed’ and appropriate accommodation provided.
He added: ‘It was… unreasonable for the defendant local authority to determine that it did not appear to it that these three claimants required accommodation, and the local authority was in breach of its duty under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 by declining to provide accommodation to these three claimants pending the outcome of their age assessments.
‘The defendant’s decisions in these three cases not to accommodate the claimants under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 were unlawful.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel is considering X-raying migrants to try and ascertain their age
The council could face costs and relief payments now the judgement has been published.
This is the latest development in a long-running debate over how asylum-seekers without identity papers should have their ages assessed.
Last year a school pupil who claimed to be 15 but looked 40 disappeared from classes after October half-term.
Parents at the school in Coventry previously expressed doubts about the asylum-seeking student, who is said to have moved to the UK from Gambia, West Africa.
The Home Office launched an ‘urgent investigation’ into the matter after the city council wrote to parents to reassure them about the situation.
The school said it had been able to verify the pupil’s age, but did not explain how – further fuelling concerns about the balding male.
Asylum seekers who are genuine child victims of war, terror and humanitarian disasters, will have the right to financial help with accommodation up until they are 25. Children in asylum rules are under 18.
Earlier this month it was announced migrants could face X-rays checks to test their age before they are given asylum to ensure they are not lying.
Priti Patel is set to unveil new powers to use ‘scientifically verifiable’ methods to confirm a person’s age.
The amendments under the National and Borders Bill are understood to allow X-rays of the forearm bones – which accurately report the maturity of the skeletal system.
But they are only believed to be targeted at those suspected of lying about their age to boost their chances of asylum.
It would bring the UK up to date with other European countries and the US, which use dental X-rays.