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There has been a lot of discussion recently about the Court of Appeal finally putting the final nail in the Detained Fast Track (“DFT”) and finding it to be unlawful, as a direct access immigration barrister, I have had a few clients that I have got out of the DFT.

I consider that the whole DFT has been a stain on the reputation of the UK for fairness and justice. The idea that people who are fleeing persecution can be locked up and made to prepare for an appeal in a matter of days without having proper access to their lawyers has long disgusted me.

What made matters worst is that various Judges would simply allow hearings to go ahead in circumstances where the Appellant was never going to get a fair hearing. I had a case where I was instructed at 1930 for the hearing the next morning where the previous representatives had withdrawn at the last minute. I was provided with the papers on the morning of the hearing. There was an asylum interview record of some 250 questions. My client spoke Urdu. I would like to learn Urdu and indeed am going to start learning it this September, but at present other than yes and no I do not speak it.

I turned up and naturally assumed that the hearing would be adjourned given that I could not communicate with my client and no one had ever read the 250 question interview to him. The Immigration Judge refused the adjournment and allowed me a hour to speak to him over lunch. I was provided with the Court interpreter but all this enabled me to do was to explain my role and to find out what had happened.

I explained to the Immigration Judge that while they may have been content to take “the Queen’s shilling” or put another way “eaten the salt” and pretend that this was justice I would not. I did not however withdraw as this would have left a vulnerable asylum seeker even more vulnerable and made submissions as best I could.

I am therefore glad to see the back of such an unfair system, what surprises me most about it is that it has lasted as long as it has given the number of adverse decisions, indeed I can count at least three cases where the Court have ruled the system unlawful.

This brings me to the point of this post.

Have you, a family member or a friend been detained under the DFT?
Were you unfairly treated?
Were you a victim of torture who was kept in the DFT?

Was your appeal dismissed in the DFT and you have subsequently been released?

If you fit any of the above categories then you may have either a claim against the Home Office for unlawful detention or alternatively have the basis for making a fresh claim – either under asylum or human rights law or indeed both. Indeed it might be that you could bring both claims. If you are unsure as to whether you fit the above it might be worth booking an appointment and coming to see me.

I specialise in both challenging the legality of detention and also in making accurate, detailed, focussed and successful fresh claims and would be happy to see anyone who has suffered as a result of this massively unfair and unlawful scheme. Indeed as I noted to one Judge, the national press would have a field day if a young British girl was held abroad and then produced to a Court  without having met or being able to communicate with her lawyer.

Paul Turner is a highly regarded direct access immigration barrister and is the head of Imperium Chambers, Grays Inn Buildings, Grays Inn, he also practises from Mansfield Chambers, the Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, 5 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1LG and a door tenant at 39 Park Square Leeds LS1 2NU and is licensed by the Bar Council to provide advice and representation directly to the public.