Migrants win fight with Priti Patel after ‘unlawful’ age assessments

Two 'teenage' migrants won legal case after social worker assessments said they were aged 20 and 21

A group of people thought to be migrants arrive in Dungeness, Kent, in the UK following a small boat incident in the English Channel. PA

Two migrants have won a UK 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.

The heads of a charity working with refugees welcomed 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 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 rescued at sea in January 2021 after travelling in a rubber dinghy who said he was born in May 2003.

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

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

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

“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”.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 10:56 PM