2010-2019 | Refusing refugees

Government attempt to hide denying refugee children their rights

The refugee camp at Calais – malachybrownem – CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

31 July 2018

On 31 July 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that the British government had ‘materially misled’ the high court over how it had denied refugee children refused entrance into the UK their legal rights to know and challenge the reasons for their visa applications being turned down. The Judges added that the process used to assess 2000 children from the Calais ‘Jungle’ refugee camp was both ‘unfair and unlawful’ and that five hundred children had not been given adequate reasons for refusal. Only 750 children had been granted a visa and the remainder were only given the news of their refusal on a spreadsheet with a word or short phrase to explain why their application was being rejected.1

The Home Office refusals had been originally upheld by the High Court who were wrongly advised that the lack of any proper explanation was ‘a requirement of the French authorities.’ The truth was the exact opposite.  At the high court the appeal, brought by campaigning group Citizens UK, was able to show that Home Office officials were advised by lawyers to avoid detailed replies in order to avoid legal challenges. The French, on the other hand, had requested the children be provided full explanations for any refusals. ‘Otherwise,’ an email sent by French officials explained, ‘the young people especially will not understand, we will not be able to explain it to them and the situation will quickly become unmanageable for you as well as for us.’2

The verdict of Yvette Cooper, who chaired the Home Affairs Committee, was that the Home Office’s conduct had been ‘a shocking denial’ of children’s rights.  ‘Even though ministers agreed to help many child refugees from Calais,’ she observed, ‘it appears the default setting of the Home Office was still so hostile that it deliberately made it harder for others to appeal or to rejoin relatives.’3


  1. Alexandra Topping, ‘Government misled court on treatment of Calais child refugees,’ The Guardian, 1 August 2018, p. 5 and ‘Judges criticise Home Office over handling of “Jungle” children visas,’  The Metro, 1 August 2018, p. 2.
  2. Richard Ford, ‘Home Office misled court over child migrant refusals,’ The Times, 1 August 2018, p. 2.
  3. Ibid p. 2.

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