Asylum seeker deported by Priti Patel should be brought back to UK, judge rules

Home Secretary Priti Patel must bring back to the UK a small boat asylum seeker she removed to France in the next 14 days, a High Court judge has ruled.

The court heard that the alleged modern slavery and torture victim was deported due to an "illegal and secret" Home Office policy and should be brought back.

This comes as Ms Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which could make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, was introduced to Parliament on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old Sudanese man, who can only be identified by the initials AA, made an asylum claim in the UK in June 2020 after fleeing to Europe due to torture and persecution in Sudan.

The man said he was later enslaved and tortured in Libya while travelling to France, where his asylum claim was first rejected.

After he then arrived in the UK, AA had a screening interview with immigration officials who are legally required to take steps to identify potential victims and refer "any suspicion" of slavery or human trafficking for investigation.

However, AA’s screening interview did not identify him as a potential victim of modern slavery and he was deported back to France, where he was homeless and destitute, the court heard.

At the time of his interview, the Home Office had a published policy to ask two questions designed to determine if someone has been the victim of modern slavery.

AA argued that the Home Office also had a secret and unlawful policy to not ask those questions, which would have led to him being identified as a victim.

Mr Justice Wall said: "Had the claimant been identified as a potential victim of modern slavery, he could not have been removed from the United Kingdom until the process of investigating that issue was complete.

"He would also have been entitled to assistance and support while in this country… However, the failure to refer him led to a removal of the claimant to France. It ended this country’s responsibility for him."

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