Scott-Moncrieff solicitor, Yen Ly, acted in the recent matter of BF where The Home Office was dealt a major blow following the decision handed down by the Court of Appeal in the case of BF(Eritrea) v SSHD  EWCA Civ 87.
BF an Eritrean national had arrived unaccompanied in March 2014 having just turned 16. Following a cursory visual assessment by immigration officers who deemed that his physical appearance strongly suggested that he was significantly over 18, he was immediately detained with a view to removal to Italy. BF was later aged assessed by independent social workers and found to be a minor.
It was argued on BF’s behalf that the method of visual assessment was inherently unreliable, having been widely criticised by both the courts and bodies such at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and would lead to children being detained as adults. BF was able to demonstrate with statistical evidence obtained from the Refugee Council that the application of the policy had led to a significant number of children being unlawfully detained.
The figures suggested that as many 24% to 43 % of those who had been detained by the Home Office under the policy turned out to be children. The policy, contained in the Home Office’s Enforcement and Guidance document, had been in force in various guises for over 10 years. Over that time, it is unclear how many children may have been unlawfully detained and removed without ever accessing a solicitor to challenge their age assessments. BF’s story has a happy conclusion; he was cared for by social services and has been granted full refugee status.
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