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16 Channel-Crossing Migrants Claim £20,000 Each in Damages for Unlawful Treatment in UK High Court

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Sixteen asylum seekers who crossed the Channel in small boats three years ago are seeking damages from the UK Home Office, citing complaints about their treatment upon arrival in England.

The claims include allegations of “unlawful” searches, mobile phone seizures, data extraction, and the non-return of items, with possessions reportedly being returned damaged, as reported by The Belfast Telegraph.

The case was presented before Mr Justice Nicklin during a preliminary High Court hearing held on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, in Court 13 at the Royal Courts of Justice complex in London.

Lawyers representing the migrants asserted that the treatment they experienced violated the law, prompting their pursuit of damages. However, ministers’ lawyers indicated that they disputed the claims.

During the hearing, Mr Justice Nicklin highlighted that the case would be reconsidered in 2024. Notably, the judge imposed restrictions on naming the migrants in media reports, emphasizing that issues related to reporting names would be revisited in a subsequent hearing.

Eric Metcalfe, a barrister representing the migrants, outlined the case, stating that each claimant is seeking approximately £20,000 in damages.

According to Metcalfe, between April 25 and November 6, 2020, the claimants crossed the English Channel from Calais in small boats, subsequently claiming asylum upon their arrival in the UK.

Metcalfe detailed the alleged mistreatment by Home Office officials, including searches, some involving strip-searches. The Home Office reportedly seized their mobile phones and SIM cards, insisting that the claimants provide their PIN codes.

In a concerning development, the Home Office allegedly failed to return the phones and SIM cards for several months in every case.

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The barrister highlighted that the claimants were receiving legal aid, indicating the significance and complexity of their legal challenge against the Home Office.

This legal action follows a precedent set in March 2022 when three asylum seekers successfully challenged then-home secretary Priti Patel in court. Patel admitted that their mobile phones were unlawfully seized under a blanket policy targeting migrants crossing the Channel.

In that prior case, the trio contested the lawfulness of the circumstances and policies under which they were subjected to searches. The admission by the home secretary underscored the need for scrutiny over the treatment of asylum seekers and migrants, prompting the current legal efforts by the sixteen claimants.

As the case unfolds, it brings attention to the delicate balance between border security measures and the protection of individuals’ rights, particularly those seeking asylum.

The outcome of this legal challenge may have broader implications for the treatment of migrants arriving in the UK and may influence policy discussions surrounding border control practices.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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