A man who won the right to return to Britain after being deported says the Home Office “could not care less if I lived or died”.
His experience was part of the evidence in a High Court case that began on Wednesday. It underlined the way people are deported without basic legal rights.
A Home Office policy which gives migrants as little as 72 hours’ notice of their impending deportation “poses a serious threat to the rule of law”, the court heard.
Campaign group Medical Justice is challenging the removal notice window (RNW) policy, under which migrants are given between three and seven days’ notice that they might be removed from Britain at some point during the next three months without further warning.
The group argues that the notice period is so short that it is impossible for those who do not already have a lawyer to obtain one, meaning the policy “gives rise to an unacceptable risk of interference with the constitutional right of access to justice”.
Opening the case, Charlotte Kilroy QC said, “It is so short, indeed, that in most cases individuals who do not have prior legal representation will not even be able to contact a lawyer in that period, let alone access the courts.”
She told the court that “the vast majority of more than 30,000 enforced removals which have taken place since December 2015 have followed service of RNWs”.
She added that recent disclosure by the Home Office revealed “13 cases in which the Home Secretary has accepted that the person should not have been removed, or has been ordered to return them to the UK”.
“The power home secretary Sajid Javid has given himself under the policy to curtail or remove the right of access to court to challenge his own decisions poses a serious threat to the rule of law,” Kilroy said.
She referred to the case of a man known only as A, who she described as “an obviously vulnerable individual with a severe mental health condition”.
Kilroy said A was removed from the UK in 2017 “in breach of his right of access to justice and the Home Secretary's policy”, having been served a notice window by the Home Office without seeking the views of his doctors.
He was later given leave to remain after being returned to Britain.
He said in a statement, “I was invited to come to an interview with the Home Office, but there was no interview. I was detained and put on a plane all on the same day. It was all deliberately underhand.
“What they did was unlawful, but I had no chance to stop them. I could not even call a lawyer.
“The Home Office knew that I was suffering from psychotic illness and that I was suicidal, but they flew me out with very limited access to my medication.
“I could not contact my daughter to let her know what was happening. They could not care less if I lived or died.”