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Cathryn McGahey KC and Sian Reeves represented the Home Office in an appeal by the Claimants against the dismissal of their battery claims.
On 15 February 2010, Immigration Officers attended the home of the Claimants to transfer them to a detention centre pending their imminent removal from the UK pursuant to removal directions. Whilst the Claimants accepted that the attempted removal from their home was lawful, they alleged that excessive and unlawful force was used against them by the Immigration Officers. The Claimants claimed damages for personal injuries and loss consequent upon the alleged battery.
The Claimants’ claims were dismissed by the trial judge following a 4.5 day trial. The trial judge held that the force used by the Immigration Officers to compel the First Claimant to release the Second Claimant was no greater than reasonably necessary to protect the Second Claimant from actual and impending harm, and that the Immigration Officers had a genuine and reasonable belief that the force used was necessary to protect the Second Claimant.
The Court of Appeal rejected the entirety of the Claimants’ grounds of appeal. The Court of Appeal held that the findings made by the trial judge were open to him on the evidence.
A fundamental premise of the Claimants’ appeal was that the factual findings of the trial judge had wider significance in relation to the proper approach of the courts to the protection of the best interests of children in the context of family removals. Having found that the trial judge was entitled to find that the Immigration Officers genuinely and reasonably believed that it was necessary to take the action which they did, and that such action was in those circumstances reasonable, the Court of Appeal held (per Bean LJ at para. 31) that:
“This is not, therefore, a suitable case in which to pronounce on what level of force would be appropriate in order to separate an adult from a child, where there is no perceived risk of imminent harm to the child, simply in order to facilitate a removal”.
Cathryn McGahey KC and Sian Reeves were instructed by Helen John of the Government Legal Department.
Judgment was handed down on 17 November 2017.