AH and another -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department (anonymity order and interim order)
Administrative CourtHigh CourtKing's Bench DivisionAnonymity Order
Claim number: CO-893-2023
In the High Court of Justice
King’s Bench Division
13 April 2023
The Honourable Mr Justice Mostyn
Secretary of State for the Home Department
On an application by the claimants for anonymity
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the claimants including the witness statement of Polly Glynn of 22 March 2023, the defendant and PA Media having had the opportunity to make submissions in relation to the claim for anonymity but not having taken it
ORDER by the Honourable Mr Justice Mostyn
- The application for anonymity is granted in the terms set out in para 3 below, on a strictly interim basis until the determination of the application for permission to seek judicial review.
- The judge determining the permission application shall decide, if permission is granted, whether to renew this grant of anonymity and if so on what terms.
- a) There shall be substituted for all purposes in this case, in place of references to the First Claimant’s name, reference to “AH” and in place of references to the Second Claimant’s name, reference to “KS”;
b) There shall be no publication of any name, address, picture or other information likely to lead to the identification of the Claimants or their family;
c) “Publication” means communication to the public or any section of the public. It includes publication in a newspaper or broadcast, or on the internet, by any person;
d). Any application for permission to inspect or obtain a non-anonymised version of a document must be made on notice to the Claimants and in accordance with CPR r.5.4C(6).
- Costs in the substantive application.
- This order shall be placed on the judiciary.uk website
- The claimant’s solicitor, Polly Glynn, has stated in a witness statement that in a previous case of hers where there was no anonymity, a tabloid newspaper had followed her client and published an inaccurate story that he was jumping the housing queue together with a photograph of him.
- In my opinion this is a terrible reason for imposing an anonymity order. It would amount to court censorship of that abrasive type of tabloid journalism which is by definition uncomfortable for the subjects of its attention, and which for that very reason must be specifically protected by Article 10 of the convention.
- Ms Glynn argues that the Iranian authorities have been known to monitor the activities of its citizens who are claiming asylum overseas and implies that the claimants are in some way at risk if the Iranian authorities did so. This is not evidence but is mere assertion. There is no basis for me to conclude that the key constitutional principle of open justice should be compromised because the Iranian authorities might decide to pay attention to the claimants’ activities.
- Ms Glynn reminds me that there have been recently some unpleasant incidents where far-right vigilante groups have targeted hotels in which asylum seekers have been placed, even attacking police officers protecting those asylum seekers.
- This is in my judgment a sufficient reason to impose a strictly time-limited anonymity order. I reach that conclusion with some doubts as it seems to me to be arguably contrary to principle that small groups of lawless thugs can cause the key constitutional principle of open justice to be in effect suspended.
- However, I am satisfied that there is a small risk which if it did eventuate could have serious consequences and for this reason there should be a short term anonymity order. The merit of the order will need to be reconsidered if permission is granted.
On an application by the claimants for interim relief and on an application by the defendant for an extension of time within which to file the acknowledgement of service until 28 April 2023.
Following consideration of the documents lodged by the claimants, and the response on behalf of the defendant settled by Alan Payne KC
And on considering the application by the defendant or an extension of time dated 21 March 2023
ORDER by the Honourable Mr Justice Mostyn
- The application by the claimants for interim relief (namely for self catered accommodation suitable for the family and which meets the disability needs of the first claimant, and for financial support, is refused).
- The claimants shall pay the defendant’s costs of the interim relief application, but those costs shall not be assessed, and this order shall not be enforced, until the conclusion of these proceedings
- The defendant’s time to file her acknowledgment of service and summary grounds of defence is extended to 28 April 2023.
- The papers are to be placed before a judge for consideration of the permission application as soon as possible after 1 May 2023.
- Since the filing of these proceedings the defendant has supplied the claimants with an Aspen card and so the complaint about lack of financial support has now fallen away
- The specific complaint of the first claimant that he was not given a bathroom with a walk-in shower, needed on account of his disability as an amputee, has also fallen away in circumstances where he has been offered a room in the hotel with such a shower but has turned it down preferring to remain in his existing room next to his sister’s.
- As for the general complaint that the accommodation does not meet the necessary standard of adequacy I have carefully considered the written submissions of Mr Payne KC and the authorities to which he has referred.
- It cannot be disputed that the current influx of refugees is presenting the government with very difficult challenges as regards their accommodation and support.
- The law requires refugees to be accommodated and supported at that level of adequacy which staves off a condition of destitution. Obviously, the level will vary depending on the demands being made on government from time to time. Equally obvious is that there is an irreducible minimum level of adequacy.
- In the current crisis I am quite sure that the accommodation provided in the hotel, while being very far from perfect, does not fall below that irreducible minimal level of adequacy.
- I have been particularly struck by the argument that were this claim to succeed it would mean that these claimants would in effect jump a long queue at the expense of other equally meritful, perhaps even more meritful, refugees.
- For these reasons the interim relief application is dismissed. The costs of that application should follow the event in the normal way although assessment of those costs and enforcement of the order will be stayed until the conclusion of the substantive proceedings.
- I have granted the defendant the extension of time that she seeks to file the acknowledgement of service and summary grounds of defence. It is not satisfactory for the defendant to be asking for more than twice the amount of time allowed to her by the rules to produce her defence. However bearing in mind that holiday periods have intervened I have decided to grant the extension. The defendant must understand that I will not be granting any further extension.
- In view of the fact that it is arguable that in a less crisis-ridden world the accommodation in which the claimants find themselves is close to the frontier of adequacy, I consider that the permission decision should follow very shortly after the defendant has filed her acknowledgement of service. I therefore have directed that the papers are to be placed before a judge to make the permission decision as soon as possible after 1 May 2023.