'Teen' migrants win fight against Priti Patel after 'unlawful' age assessments

'Teen' migrants win fight against Priti Patel after 'unlawful' age assessments
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Samantha Haynes

By Samantha Haynes

Published: 19/01/2022

- 19:57

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:43

The migrants took legal action against the Home Secretary and Coventry City Council after they had been judged to be adults on arrival in Kent.

Two migrants have won a High Court fight against Home Secretary Priti Patel after complaining about the way their ages were assessed on arrival in England.

The pair said they were teenagers but had been judged by social workers to be adults after arriving in Kent.

Both said they were given “short” rather than “full” assessments, and argued that the way their ages were gauged was unfair.

A judge ruled in their favour and concluded that the age assessments – carried out at a holding facility in Dover, Kent – were unlawful.

Bosses at a charity working with refugees welcomed Mr Justice Henshaw’s ruling.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said “hasty” decisions had been made and described the ruling as “important”.

The judge, who is based in London, outlined details of the case in a written ruling, which was published on Wednesday, after considering evidence at a hearing last year.

One of the migrants, a Kuwaiti who arrived in Kent on a lorry in December 2020, said he was born in June 2004.

His age was judged to be 20 after a 42-minute assessment.

The second is an Iranian, who was rescued at sea in January 2021 after travelling in a rubber dinghy and said he was born in May 2003.

He was judged to be 21 after an assessment lasting an hour.

Mr Justice Henshaw, who did not name the two migrants in his ruling, said the assessments were “not lawful” in “particular respects”.

Mr Solomon said: “Today’s important judgment is very welcome but not surprising.

“In recent months, our Age Dispute Project has helped numerous young people secure a lawful age assessment by social workers following a flawed decision made on arrival in Dover, and we are relieved that the practice of hasty decisions is no longer allowed to continue.

“Distinguishing between adults and children is not something that can be done quickly. It takes time and expertise to make the right decision.”

The migrants took legal action against Ms Patel and Coventry City Council.

One had moved to Coventry after leaving Dover.

Kent County Council was listed as an “interested party”.

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