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Immigration judge gave impression that he “considers all asylum seekers to be liars”

Immigration judge gave impression that he “considers all asylum seekers to be liars”

An experienced immigration judge’s ruling in an asylum case gave the impression that he “considers all asylum seekers to be liars”, the Upper Tribunal has found. The case is MR v Secretary of State for the Home Department PA/02377/2019.

Upper Tribunal Judge Martin described the First-tier Tribunal decision in the case as “couched in rather intemperate language”. It included a suggestion that MR had changed his account during the hearing by claiming to be an atheist, which supposedly he had never raised before. This, the Upper Tribunal clarified, was “not true”: MR had referred to being an atheist both at his asylum interview and in a written statement.

Judge Martin also heard evidence from MR’s counsel that Judge Geraint Jones QC was “aggressive and sarcastic”, giving “every impression of being biased against this appellant in particular and asylum seekers in general”.

On the basis of this evidence and the First-tier Tribunal judgment itself, Judge Martin concluded:

an impartial observer sitting in court at this hearing would have come to the conclusion that this appellant did not have a fair hearing. The Decision and Reasons itself gives the impression that this particular judge considers all asylum seekers to be liars. It may be that the appellant’s claim may be found to be not credible but the terms in which the adverse credibility findings are couched in this Decision and Reasons does not give the impression of an impartial assessment of the evidence.

The Home Office did not seek to defend the ruling under appeal. The case has been remitted for a full rehearing.

The First-tier Tribunal judge involved has now, reportedly, retired. Separate allegations of bias against him were raised in the reported case of Ortega (remittal; bias; parental relationship) [2018] UKUT 298 (IAC). On that occasion, the Upper Tribunal rejected the claim.

CJ McKinney is Free Movement's editor. He's here to make sure that the website is on top of everything that happens in the world of immigration law, whether by writing articles, commissioning them out or considering pitches. CJ is an adviser on legal and policy matters to the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, and keeps up with the wider legal world as a contributor to Legal Cheek. Twitter: @mckinneytweets.