Court of appeal says removal of migrants to Rwanda ‘unlawful’ because it’s not ‘safe third country’

Here is the key passage from the summary of the judgment by Lord Burnett, the lord chief justice. He said:

The result is that the high court’s decision that Rwanda was a safe third country is reversed and that unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected, removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful.

Key events

Why court of appeal decided Rwanda was not safe third country

This passage, from the summary of the court of appeal’s judgment, explains why it decided that Rwanda was not a safe third country.

The decision of the majority – the Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, and Lord Justice Underhill (the vice-president of the court of appeal (Civil Division)) – is that the deficiencies in the asylum system in Rwanda are such that there are substantial grounds for believing that there is a real risk that persons sent to Rwanda will be returned to their home countries where they faced persecution or other inhumane treatment, when, in fact, they have a good claim for asylum. In that sense Rwanda is not a “safe third country”. That conclusion is founded on the evidence which was before the high court that Rwanda’s system for deciding asylum claims was, in the period up to the conclusion of the Rwanda agreement, inadequate. The Court is unanimous in accepting that the assurances given by the Rwandan government were made in good faith and were intended to address any defects in its asylum processes. However, the majority believes that the evidence does not establish that the necessary changes had by then been reliably effected or would have been at the time of the proposed removals. In consequence sending anyone to Rwanda would constitute a breach of article 3 of the European convention on human rights, with which Parliament has required that the Government must comply (Human Rights Act 1998, section 6).

Originally the hight court ruled that in principle Rwanda was a safe third country. But the high court found in favour of asylum seekers challenging the decision to send them to Rwanda because of the way their cases had been handled.

But the court of appeal’s decision was not unanimous. Lord Burnett, the lord chief justice, concluded Rwanda was a safe country. But he was “outvoted” by the other two judges sitting with him.

In agreement with the high court, the lord chief justice, the Lord Burnett of Maldon, has reached the opposite conclusion. He agrees that the procedures put in place under the Rwanda agreement and the assurances given by the Rwandan government are sufficient to ensure that there is no real risk that asylum-seekers relocated under the Rwanda policy will be wrongly returned to countries where they face persecution or other inhumane treatment. He has concluded that the chances of failed asylum seekers being returned to their countries of origin are in any event low, not least because Rwanda has no agreements in place with any of the countries in question. In addition, extensive monitoring arrangements, formal and informal, of all those sent to Rwanda and their asylum claims once there provide powerful protection. The arrangements put in place provide sufficient safeguards in a context where both governments will be determined to make the agreement work and be seen to do so.

Court of appeal says removal of migrants to Rwanda ‘unlawful’ because it’s not ‘safe third country’

Here is the key passage from the summary of the judgment by Lord Burnett, the lord chief justice. He said:

The result is that the high court’s decision that Rwanda was a safe third country is reversed and that unless and until the deficiencies in its asylum processes are corrected, removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda will be unlawful.

Here is more Twitter comment on the ruling.

From Danny Shaw, a former BBC home affairs correspondent

BREAKING The Court of Appeal has ruled – by 2 to 1 – that Rwanda is “not a safe third country”.

Asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Sudan and Albania who’d arrived on small boats had challenged @ukhomeoffice decisions to remove them.

Serious blow for @ukhomeoffice

— Danny Shaw (@DannyShawNews) June 29, 2023

Two judges – Sir Geoffrey Vos (Master of the Rolls) and Lord Justice Underhill – said there were substantial grounds for believing there was a “real risk” asylum seekers sent to Rwanda would be sent back to their home countries.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett didn’t agree.

— Danny Shaw (@DannyShawNews) June 29, 2023

From David Allen Green, a lawyer and legal commentator

From Colin Yeo, an immgiration barrister

Case undoubtedly going to Supreme Court – I guess Court of Appeal itself will grant permission given the split.

— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) June 29, 2023

These are from Colin Yeo, a barrister specialising in immigration cases.

Appeal allowed on Rwanda being safe – as in, the claimants succeed on that ground.

— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) June 29, 2023

There are substantial grounds for believing genuine refugees might be returned from Rwanda to their own countries to face persecution.

— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) June 29, 2023

Evidence does not establish that necessary changes to Rwandan asylum system would have been put in place, despite assurances from Rwandan government. Also therefore breach of Article 3 ECHR.

— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) June 29, 2023

It’s a split decision – Lord Chief Justice dissents.

— Colin Yeo (@ColinYeo1) June 29, 2023

Campaigners for asylum seekers win appeal against high court case on Rwanda deportation policy

Lord Burnett says the court is allowing the appeal from campaigners acting on behalf of asylum seekers on the grounds of Rwanda being a safe third country.

But he says the court is not allowing the appeal on other grounds.

Court of appeal delivers judgment on Rwanda appeal

The court of appeal is now giving is judgment on the Rwanda appeal. There is a live feed at the top of the blog.

Lord Burnett, the lord chief justice, is now setting out the background to the case.

The essential issue is whether the Rwanda system could deliver reliable outcomes, he says. He says the appellants argued that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda might be returned to their home country when they had a good case for asylum.

He says the high court approved the Rwanda policy in principle, but objected to how it was applied in particular cases.

Jacob Rees-Mogg declined to comment on the privileges committee report when he was doorstepped by reporters this morning. He told ITV he was going to church, and then to the Test match.

Jacob Rees-Mogg says he’s going to church and watching the cricket today, after he was named in a Privileges Committee report as one of the Tory MPs who attacked those investigating Boris Johnson’s partygate lieshttps://t.co/VLQFp8NbgZ pic.twitter.com/g0GuBMe4w9

— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) June 29, 2023

The Suella Braverman statement in the Commons on the court of appeal judgment on the Rwanda deportations policy will take place at about 5pm.

The ruling itself is due within the next few minutes.

In its report the Commons privileges committee says there were legitimate ways by which MPs could have sought to influence its inquiry into Boris Johnson. It says that they got the chance to vote on it when it was set up; that they could have submitted evidence to the committee about the subject of its investigation, or about its procedures; and that they had a vote on the final report.

But some of Boris Johnson’s allies did not do this, it says.

Those members did not choose to engage through any proper process such as the submission of letters or evidence to our inquiry, but by attacking the members of the committee, in order to influence their judgment. Their aim was to (1) influence the outcome of the inquiry, (2) impede the work of the committee by inducing members to resign from it, (3) discredit the committee’s conclusions if those conclusions were not what they wanted, and (4) discredit the committee as a whole.

Campaign against privileges committee had ‘significant personal impact’ on its members, report says

The Commons privileges committee says the campaign against its Boris Johnson inquiry waged by some of his supporters had a “significant personal impact” on members of the committee. In the report it says:

Pressure was applied particularly to Conservative members of the committee. This had the clear intention to drive those members off the committee and so to frustrate the intention of the house that the inquiry should be carried out, or to prevent the inquiry coming to a conclusion which the critics did not want. There were also sustained attempts to undermine and challenge the impartiality of the chair [Harriet Harman], who had been appointed to the committee by unanimous decision of the house.

This unprecedented and co-ordinated pressure did not affect the conduct or outcome of our inquiry. However, it had significant personal impact on individual members and raised significant security concerns.

If abuse of members who are carrying out the duties imposed on them by the house is allowed to continue, it is reasonable to conclude that in future members would decline to serve on the committee, or there might be a reluctance on the part of individuals approached as external advisers to serve in that role. If that happens, rather than making its decisions with the assistance of a report from a committee which can take advice and gather and evaluate evidence, the house might feel compelled to cede to an external authority the responsibility for protection of its rights and privileges.

Privileges committee says MPs should get chance to vote on motion backing its criticism of Johnson’s allies

The Commons privileges committee is not directly calling for sanctions against the MPs it says interfered with its Boris Johnson inquiry. And the Commons does not have the power to impose sanctions on peers anyway. But it does want the Commons to pass a motion that would back up the criticism in the report of the conduct of some of Boris Johnson’s allies.

It also says the Commons should consider if “further action” needs to be taken against the MPs named. It says:

We recommend that the house agree a resolution in the following terms:

That this house:

a) notes with approval the special report from the committee of privileges;

b) considers that where the house has agreed to refer a matter relating to individual conduct to the committee of privileges, members of this house should not impugn the integrity of that committee or its members or attempt to lobby or intimidate those members or to encourage others to do so, since such behaviour undermines the proceedings of the house and is itself capable of being a contempt;

and c) considers it expedient that the House of Lords is made aware of the special report and this resolution, so that that house can take such action as it deems appropriate.

If the government fails to table such a motion within a reasonable time, we note that any member has the power to write to the speaker to ask for the matters in this special report to be given precedence as a matter of privilege. If Mr Speaker does grant precedence, that member will be able to table an appropriate motion to enable the house to reach a decision on those matters. Such a motion would be debatable and amendable.

It will be for the house to consider what further action, if any, to take in respect of members of the house referred to in this special report.

Privileges committee accuses seven Tory MPs and three peers of trying to interfere with its Johnson inquiry

The Commons privileges committee has criticised in particular seven MPs and one peer for posting tweets, or giving comments to the media, that it describeds as “some of the most disturbing examples of the co-ordinated campaign to interfere with” its inquiry into Boris Johnson.

The quotes are set out in an annex to the report.

The MPs are:

Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary (who seems to be the worst offender – four of her remarks are quoted)

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary and former leader of the Commons (the next worst – two of his remarks are quoted)

Mark Jenkinson

Michael Fabricant

Brendan Clarke-Smith

Andrea Jenkyns

Priti Patel, the former home secretary

And the peer is Zac Goldsmith, who is a Foreign Office minister.

The report says:

By his ruling on 6 March 2023, the Speaker prevented abuse within the house, but what needs to be addressed is the campaign waged outside parliament by some members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords to undermine the committee.

Those involved used newspapers and radio and there was extensive use of social media. There were many examples but the committee is particularly concerned about attacks mounted by experienced colleagues, including a serving minister of the Crown, a former leader of the house and a former secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, and at least three members of the House of Lords (one of whom is the serving minister referred to above) who took it upon themselves to undermine procedures of the House of Commons. The former and current members of the Government we have referred to are privy counsellors.

We have not catalogued every tweet or TV appearance, but have set out in an annex to this report some of the most disturbing examples of the co-ordinated campaign to interfere with the work of the committee.

The annex includes the statements made by the individuals referred to above and of others who followed their example.

This matter is made more difficult because two of the Members mounting the most vociferous attacks on the Committee did so from the platform of their own hosted TV shows. Attacks by experienced Members are all the more concerning as they would have known that during the course of an investigation it was not possible for the privileges committee to respond to the attacks.

The report also criticises two other Tory peers, Lord Cruddas and Lord Greenhalgh. It says:

An example of selective pressure brought to bear on Conservative members of the Committee was the email campaign instigated by the Conservative Post website, urging those members to stand aside from the committee and alleging that the inquiry was “deeply flawed, biased and unfair”. Two members of the House of Lords, whose peerages were conferred on the recommendation of Mr Johnson, were among over 600 people who emailed committee members using the template email devised by Conservative Post. Conservative Post is the online magazine of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, whose President is Lord Cruddas and whose Vice-President is Lord Greenhalgh.

The Commons privileges committee has published its report. It’s here.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, will make a statement in the Commons later about the court of appeal ruling on the Rwanda policy.

One Statement today from @SuellaBraverman on Migration and Economic Development Partnership Court of Appeal Ruling

This will come at the end of Commons business today

— Labour Whips (@labourwhips) June 29, 2023

Lord Cruddas restates claim privileges committee ‘kangaroo court’ ahead of publication of its report

Lord Cruddas, who was given a peerage by Boris Johnson despite the House of Lords appointments commissions saying he was unsuitable, posted an extended message on Twiter last night denying that he “intimidated” the Commons privileges committee and claiming that he is the victim of snobbery. He also repeated the claim they were a “kangaroo court”. He said:

The Committee of Privileges is a House of Commons committee. It simply does not have the power to sanction people who aren’t MPs. The House of Lords is an independent body. Once again it has embarrassed Parliament by not understanding basic law. The idea I “intimidated” a committee of supposedly grown-up individuals is a nonsense. Worse frankly, it is defamatory of me and I suspect it is yet more snobbery directed at someone from the working class who has succeeded in life from these career politicians. Based on their ‘logic’ they are intimidating me and committing contempt of the House of Lords. If they don’t want people noticing they are a kangaroo court then they should hop less.

The Committee of Privileges is a House of Commons committee. It simply does not have the power to sanction people who aren’t MPs. The House of Lords is an independent body. Once again it has embarrassed Parliament by not understanding basic law.
The idea I “intimidated” a…

— Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch (@peteratcmc) June 28, 2023

Partygate: privileges committee to publish report into ‘coordinated’ attempt to undermine Boris Johnson inquiry

Good morning. When the Commons privileges committee published its report two weeks ago saying Boris Johnson lied to MPs about Partygate, it said that it would be publishing a follow-up about attempts to “undermine” its inquiry. All Commons committees find their work subject to criticism, but in this case what triggered particular concern were comments suggesting that the Conservative members of the committee might face deselection if their report was critical of the former PM.

In its report the committee said:

From the outset of this inquiry there has been a sustained attempt, seemingly coordinated, to undermine the committee’s credibility and, more worryingly, that of those members serving on it. The committee is concerned that if these behaviours go unchallenged, it will be impossible for the house to establish such a committee to conduct sensitive and important inquiries in the future. The house must have a committee to defend its rights and privileges, and it must protect members of the house doing that duty from formal or informal attack or undermining designed to deter and prevent them from doing that duty. We will be making a special report separately to the house dealing with these matters.

This report is now being published at 9am. And the committee seems to have firmed up its thinking. The “seemingly” has gone, and the report is called (according to the advance operational note put out by the committee) “Co-ordinated campaign of interference in the work of the Privileges Committee”.

As Aubrey Allegretti reports in his preview story, the former cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nadine Dorries, and the Tory peer Peter Cruddas, as three of the worst offenders. They all repeatedly criticised the committee, in derogatory terms, as it was carrying out its inquiry.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9am: The Commons privileges committee publishes its report on the “coordinated campaign of interference” with its investigation into Boris Johnson.

9.10am: James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, gives a speech at a Chatham House conference.

10am: The court of appeal issues its judgment in the appeal against a high court ruling saying the Home Office’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was lawful.

Morning: Nicola Sturgeon, the former Scottish first minister, gives evidence to the Covid inquiry.

Morning: Keir Starmer is on a visit in North Yorkshire.

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