14 Dec High Court rules that Home Office policy on EU rough sleepers is unlawful
Partner Zubier Yazdani represented the AIRE centre as intervenor in the judicial review brought by the Public Interest Law Unit for 3 rough sleeping EU nationals. The Home Office had decided that rough sleeping was an ‘abuse’ of EU free movement rights and was therefore entitled to administratively remove such people, even if they were working in the UK.
The High Court has ruled today that the Home Office’s administrative removal policy was unlawful in that it categorised rough sleeping as an abuse of EU free movement rights. The Court also ruled that the policy was discriminatory and amounted to a systematic verification of rights, something which is expressly prohibited under the law. The Home Office has to revise its policy and may face a number of claims against it if it does not stop administratively removing EU rough sleepers and may even face compensation claims for illegally detaining and removing such EU citizens.
Since the Brexit referendum vote the increase in the numbers of EU nationals being removed from the UK has been widely reported. The rounding up of EU rough sleepers who have not committed any offences and who then face being detained creates a climate of fear for EU citizens living in the UK. However, EU law still applies until the UK leaves the EU. The Home Office’s desire to create a ‘hostile environment’ for foreign nationals has been dealt a significant blow by this ruling. As recently stated by Vera Jourova, the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality at the European Commission, “EU citizens who meet the conditions set out in Directive 2004/38/EC have a right of residence, irrespective of whether they are homeless or not.”
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