Posts Tagged ‘Home Secretary’
“Dear friends of Florence and Precious Mhango,
We have good news – just a little while ago, in their appeal hearing, the Mhango family was granted their right to move to the next stage in their judicial review.
We will keep you up to date on the next steps, timescales, etc, but just wanted to say thanks for all your support and hard work thus far and encourage you to keep the pressure and awareness raising work going – it is working!
All the best and thanks again,
Update 1: Any bigots who feel tempted to comment should read my comments policy.
“First of all, the group has a new name – ‘Florence and Precious Belong to Glasgow’ – to reflect the fact that the Mhangos are not presently in detention but are still under the threat of detention and deportation, so the campaign continues.
We’re looking for your help to spread the word about Florence and Precious’ plight. They are currently back at home in Cranhill, but required to sign in at the Border Agency office in Glasgow each week, and their lawyer Paul Chen QC is building a case for judicial review of their claim to asylum. They still face detention and deportation.
We need more money for the legal fund and more political pressure on Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP – so if you haven’t already can you please donate to the campaign and write expressing your support for the Mhangos to Johnson? Information about this is on the info page of this facebook group.
Most importantly, please invite all your friends to this Facebook group so they can spread the word and raise the profile of this case.
We are also interested in knowing if any individuals would like to donate some of their time to fundraising and raising awareness of this case, and in attending a local meeting to coordinate efforts? If so, please get in touch via fb message and we will pass on details. We could also organise an online meeting for supporters who are a bit further away.
Finally, remember that Florence and Precious will be appearing alongside Cranhill campaigners on The Politics Show this coming Sunday, 12PM on BBC Scotland, on their special on child detention. Please tune in!
Anne McLaughlin has sent out this update:
Yes they were released this afternoon and put on a train to Glasgow. It seems that their judicial review has been granted but it’s not clear yet if the Home Secretary intervened and dropped the objections or if the high court decided to throw those objections out.
Either way, I met two very happy people off the train just 45 minutes ago. Precious must be so confused by all of this but she was smiling and thrilled to be home, as was Florence who had been so scared earlier today.
I will update you when I know the details and then I’ll be looking at how we help them from here and also some of the broader issues this campaign has highlighted.
For now though I just want to say thank you very very much to every one of you for your support for Florence and Precious. As I’ve said before your support has made a huge difference and enabled them to cope with this awful situation.
But more than that, I have no doubt whatsoever that without your ongoing commitment to helping them, they would have been deported long ago.
I cannot say how much we appreciate each and every one of you.”
Dear Mr Johnson
I am sure you will be aware of the above named mother and daughter who are constituents of mine in my capacity as a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow.
I am writing to appeal to you to use your discretion to help them after the latest development in their battle to stay in the UK where they have lived for six and a half of the daughter’s ten years.
I am seriously and genuinely concerned for their welfare on two counts. As there is a ten year old child involved in this I would hope that you would give my request equally serious and genuine consideration.
My first concern is the effect that continuing detention in Yarls Wood is having on them.
And my second, overriding concern, is the danger they will face if they are deported to Malawi as the Home Office seems determined to do.
What I am asking you to do, if you agree, will impact on both of those situations.
In a nutshell I am asking you to intervene to STOP the objections and application (for the case to be expedited) lodged by the Home Office lawyers with the High Court. As I understand it the application for the case to be expedited is due to be heard on Monday by a High Court judge. If granted, I would argue strongly that they are being denied the opportunity for justice.
As things stand, the Mhangos have (with the help of hundreds of members of the public) secured the services of a private advocate, Paul Chen QC. It was his intervention and successful application for a judicial review which resulted in them being taken off the flight to Malawi 51 minutes before it was due to take off on Monday 23rd November 2009.
Paul Chen has fresh evidence and new arguments but it takes time to develop those arguments fully and to gather in more detailed evidence. If the Home Office lawyers were being fair to this vulnerable family, they would have accepted the judicial review and allowed it to happen in the fullness of time – time that would allow that evidence and those arguments to be developed.
I believe it was incredibly unfair of the Home Office lawyers to raise objections to the review and to request the High Court to expedite it.
Mr Johnson, you are a powerful politician, you have it within your gift to help this family. All I am asking is that they are given a fair amount of time to gather in more detailed evidence. If you intervene to drop the application, I assume the next step would be that they would be released and allowed to come home to Glasgow to spend Christmas with their friends and neighbours who love and care for them.
That would at least allow this ten year old girl to be released from detention – I will save my wider arguments about detention of children for another day but you must be aware of the evidence about the damage this does to a child’s mental and physicial well being. If you require any information of how it’s affected this particular child I am more than happy to speak to you. Or speak to Precious herself – you will find that since the first detention in August, she now speaks in whispers but with some gentle encouragement she will eventually be able to tell you about the trauma she has suffered. If you allow the judicial review to happen in the natural course of time and release them back to Glasgow, you will make a huge difference to this little girl and her mother.
Secondly, if you intervene and drop the application, you will give their advocate and their supporters time to gather together the evidence required to give them the best possible chance of justice. Because this case has attracted some publicity, I am now receiving information from people in the UK and Malawi which backs up their arguments but you will understand that gathering in the detail takes time. That is all we are asking for – time.
I suspect an issue for the Home Office lawyers is that if they allow it to run its natural course, by the time the judicial review is heard they may well have hit the significant seven year mark. Can you tell me if this was a factor? If it was, do you think that is fair?
As you can imagine, being a Glasgow MSP, I am contacted by great numbers of asylum seekers. Although I am happy to work with them as constituents, I have never mounted a public campaign for any of them. This is a first for me and it is because I am so extremely concerned about this ten year old child and her mother, that I have taken these steps. I understand the arguments around deportation of asylum seekers are many, varied and complex.
However, please allow me to explain to you the single most significant reason (amongst the many others) why I believe we cannot allow this particular deportation to happen. Please bear in mind, this is not necessarily what the legal arguments will be, it is simply why I believe you should personally intervene and stop the objections.
Precious’ father’s family in Malawi have on several occasions approached Precious’ aunt and grandmother making it clear that they will claim Precious on return and that she will be living with them. They will not allow Precious to see her mother. I am no expert on the legal system in Malawi but the advice I have been given by those who are, is that the legal system will support the father’s family and there is every reason to believe that they could lose each other forever.
Now, regardless of all of the other fears, all of the other evidence and all of the other arguments, I do not believe that someone who came into politics to help vulnerable people and to make the world a better place, would knowingly turn their back on a ten year old child who has a very high chance of losing her mother (not to mention being thrown into a completely different way of life) as a result of their inaction.
So, now that you DO know about it, please do something. I assume because there is an ongoing judicial review, you are unable to use your discretion to grant them leave to remain. If I am wrong about that, I will write to you again to explain in more detail why I believe you should do so. Please advise me.
My understanding however is that the one thing you can do, as Home Secretary, is intervene to drop the objections and the application for the case to be expedited. It’s a simple request and I don’t believe it is asking too much for their advocate to have time to gather the evidence and develop the arguments. We are well aware that this will be their very last opportunity to successfully argue for leave to remain in the UK. Please, at least give them every chance to make those final arguments.
I understand the judge will hear the application for the case to be expedited on Monday. We are running out of time. Please act urgently.
Anne McLaughlin MSP”