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PB (Cameroon) v Secretary of State for Home Department [2008] EWHC 364 (Admin)

DATE: 06 Feb 2008

Victim of torture awarded damages and fresh right to consideration of Asylum Claim.

Alex Goodman acted for the Claimant in a significant decision concerning the processing of asylum decisions on the detained fast track.

The Claimant arrived from Cameroon claiming to have suffered torture in that country. She was detained on the fast track and her application for asylum and subsequent appeals rejected and the Home Office attempted to remove her to Cameroon. Those removals were stopped by injunction. The day before the subsequent substantive hearing the Home Office admitted it had breached rules 34 and 35 of the Detention Centre Rules 2001 in failing to carry out a medical examination of the Claimant. Kenneth Parker QC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge held that had such an examination been undertaken, it would in all probability have resulted in a report outlining the scars sustained in consequence of being tortured and had the Defendant’s policy been followed, the Claimant would subsequently have been released. The failure to carry out a medical examination rendered the detention of the Claimant unlawful for the whole six-month period in which she was detained, save the first 48 hours.

The Defendant’s failure to consider referring the Claimant to the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture was contrary to a policy set out by Baroness Scotland that the Defendant would consider such referrals.

Further, the Defendant’s decision on the Claimant’s application for a fresh claim suffered from such a “manifest defect of reasoning" that it had to be set aside.

The Judge held, however that it would be disproportionate to quash the decision on the Claimant’s asylum claim in consequence of the procedural improprieties. They were matters which could be taken into account in considering a fresh claim.

Click here for the judgment

Click here to read about the case in The Guardian