The High Court on Friday handed down a notable decision regarding the application of policies, the duty to give reasons and the issue of standing.
The claim was brought by FF, a Bahraini refugee and torture survivor, who had compiled a dossier of evidence allegedly implicating Prince Nasser of Bahrain in torture during Bahrain’s 2011 pro-democracy uprising. The Claimant submitted this dossier to the Counter Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police Service (SO15) who ultimately concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute and indicated that they would refer the case to the Defendant for potential immigration action and pass a copy of their report and findings to the Special Cases Department of the Defendant’s National Security Directorate (SCU). In reliance on SO15’s referral, the Claimant requested that SCU exclude Prince Nasser from the UK. In response, the Defendant refused to accept that the Claimant’s request placed her (or her officials) under a duty to consider the information he had submitted in any detail, and refused to confirm what consideration had been given to that material and whether a decision on exclusion had been made.
The Claimant challenged that position on two grounds: (1) the Claimant submitted that a refusal by the Defendant’s officials to consider material and representations provided to SCU and assess whether those materials satisfied the conditions for exclusion set out in the Defendant’s policy “Exclusion from the UK” was unlawful; and (2) that the Defendant’s refusal to confirm whether a decision has been made on that material, and to provide the reasons for that decision, was also unlawful. As the Defendant disputed the Claimant’s standing, this was also in issue at the substantive hearing.
Noting that this was “an exceptional case”, the Court held that the Claimant had standing by reason of his involvement in the 2011 protests in Bahrain, the torture and ill-treatment he had experienced and the allegations of Prince Nasser’s involvement in that. The Court allowed the claim on ground 1, holding that there was “no doubt” that the Defendant was required to consider the Claimant’s request and material in support and having done so make a decision as to whether to exclude Prince Nasser. However, the Court refused the claim on ground 2, finding that there was no obligation on the Defendant to disclose either the fact that a decision had been made, or the reasons for that decision.
Tom Hickman QC and Isabel Buchanan acted for the Claimant, instructed by Sue Willman of Deighton Pierce Glynn.
The judgment is available here.