Theresa May might have wrongly deported hundreds of gay asylum seekers as Home Secretary
Hundreds of lesbian and gay asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and survivors of domestic violence may have been wrongly deported by the UK Home Office.
A ruling by the court of appeal has found the Home Office, run by Theresa May during the period, was using out of date advice on Albania for as long as five years.
In October 2011, it was ruled that the courts and the Home Office could no longer rely on expert evidence they had previously used in asylum cases relating to the country.
However the Home Office ignored the court ruling and continued to use old advice.
Many gay and lesbian people fearful of being sent back to Albania could have been deported wrongly due to their old advice.
The reason for ignoring the court’s ruling is unclear, and lawyers who brought the case say they have never known a situation like this before.
Hundreds of men and women who made asylum applications on the basis of their sexuality, or because they had been victims of domestic abuse, are now entitled to lodge fresh claims if they are still in the UK.
A spokesman for the charity Asylum Aid told the Guardian: “It is alarming that the Home Office has been making crucial decisions about the lives of asylum seekers based on incorrect information – a wrong decision means potentially returning vulnerable people to dangerous situations and it is vital the Home Office applies the law correctly and gets these things right the first time.”
The case was brought as part of an investigation into the case of a gay 21-year-old Albanian man, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
His case was rejected by the appeal courts, however in pursuing the case the courts exposed that the Home Office had been using the wrong advice, against the 2011 court order.
The judges report that the Home Office barrister in the case, Rory Dunlop, “concedes that the tribunals erred in relying on [the evidence]”.
The man said: “When I first started my case I had no lawyer and didn’t understand anything about the process.
“I felt suicidal when my case was refused and believe that my life will be in danger if I’m sent back to Albania.
“What I’ve found out today about what the Home Office did has given me new hope for my case and I hope I can go to the supreme court now.”
His solicitor, Vanessa Delgado of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, said: “It’s so frustrating that so many Albanian asylum seekers have been let down since 2011 because the Home Office has behaved in this improper way.
“They have got dirt on their hands over these cases and have not acted correctly.”
His barrister, S Chelvan of No5 Chambers, said: “Albania is one of the top 20 countries [from] where people claim asylum in the UK.
“Arguably, hundreds could have been adversely affected by the Home Office and courts’ reliance on [the expert evidence] resulting in a clear miscarriage of justice.”