15 September 2008
In hugely disappointing result, the High Court on Wednesday 10th September, refused to hear a judicial review brought by three former Iraqi employees of the British Forces in Iraq.
Leigh Day’s clients, who were all forced to leave their work and flee Iraq because of their association with the British, are now living precarious existences as refugees in Syria.
One of the three had been forced to flee after his father was kidnapped, tortured and murdered. In torturing him the militia found out that his son also worked for the British and they began threatening him, calling him up and playing a recording of his father’s screams. He is married to a British citizen but has been refused a visa to come to the UK to join her.
Another was forced to flee after he began to receive threats following the murder of a colleague and friend. The third was chased by the militia and shot in the leg before managing to escape.
The three had all been refused admittance onto the Locally Employed Staff Assistance, launched with much fanfare by David Miliband last October in the face of intense public pressure at the way former employees had been abandoned to their fate. The Scheme on the face of it was supposed to enable those, like our clients, whose lives had been shattered by their association with British to escape Iraq and set up new lives in Britain or elsewhere.
However, it quickly became apparent that the Scheme was carefully devised so as to minimise the number of people who might benefit from it. Shocking internal memoranda disclosed to Leigh Day & Co under the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate the cynical attitude of civil servants in seeking to do the minimum they could whilst abating public pressure.
The Court found in favour of the Government’s arguments that the purpose of the Scheme was not to assist former employees escaping persecution but rather was an simple “thank-you”. As such our clients who did not meet the strict criteria for admittance to the Scheme could not expect to avail themselves of it despite their desperate experiences and present situation.
In effect the politicians had decided that it was not a question of assisting those former employees in need but rather was simply a gesture to appease public pressure.
Leigh Day will be continuing to work with its clients to keep the pressure on the Government and explore other avenues.
For further information, please contact Jamie Beagent
on 020 7650 1240
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