The high court decision came on Wednesday, 24 hours before 65 people – mostly Tamil and mostly unsuccessful asylum seekers – were due to be removed on a charter flight to Sri Lanka. The court ruled that it would be wrong to deport them when an immigration tribunal was in the process of updating its country guidance for Sri Lanka. The assessment, designed to assist immigration judges, is not expected until late April or early May.
Sitting in the high court, Mr Justice Wilkie sitting with Judge Gleeson said it would be wrong to allow the removal of Tamil asylum seekers by charter flight “at the very time that the upper tribunal [immigration and asylum chamber] is actively seized with considering new country guidance, at a time when it is clear from the agenda that the UTIAC is considering the matter virtually afresh and where it is accepted by the SSHD [home secretary] through the preliminary closing submissions that the existing country guidance case will have to change”.
“That position is one which this court cannot simply blind itself to,” he said.