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Speaking for Ourselves

'My life was shattered, in just one day': Launch of 'Inquisition'

'My life was shattered, in just one day': Launch of 'Inquisition'

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 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - 'My life was shattered, in just one day': Launch of 'Inquisition'

“It’s like an empty pocket, an empty stomach, and broken heart, a hopeless future. What can be worse than those things?” Shabbir, Inquisition

More than 100 people attended the launch of “Inquisition” on Tuesday 21 May, a short film about the injustice facing tens of thousands of international students who were wrongly accused of cheating on an English test by the Home Office in 2014.

The film was made for Migrant Voice by award-winning filmmaker Tim Langford and tells the stories – in their own voices – of five of the students, who were stripped of their visas and their rights five years ago and have been fighting to clear their names ever since. 

Watch the film here.

The event was hosted by Migrant Voice and Stephen Timms MP, a long-time supporter of the students.

Affected students, journalists, lawyers, MPs, campaign supporters, university staff and former administrators of the English test were all in the audience, watching the film in rapt silence. Some were moved to tears.

Introducing the film, Tim Langford thanked the students for trusting him to tell their stories and explained why he got involved in the first place.

“I was so moved by the stories I heard that I felt impelled to do what I could to support their campaign,” he said. “This really is the most appalling miscarriage of justice.”

In the film, the five students spoke about their hopes and dreams on arriving in the UK and the brutal impact of the wrongful allegation five years ago.

“My life was shattered, in just one day,” says Waqar. “And it’s going on and on and on, not stopping… I was even researching the best ways to do suicide.”

Following the film there was a lively panel and audience discussion, with panellists Amelia Gentleman (Guardian journalist), Robert Wright (Financial Times journalist), Sonali Naik QC and Patrick Lewis (lawyers at Garden Court Chambers who have dealt with many TOEIC cases), and Migrant Voice Director Nazek Ramadan trying to dissect exactly how this “tragedy” (as Patrick Lewis called it) was allowed to unfold.

Amelia Gentleman made the point that the allegations coincided with the abolition of legal aid for immigration cases, which made it much more difficult for students to appeal, while Robert Wright criticised the Home Office for asking ETS (the testing company) to “mark its own homework”.

Politicians in the audience included Stuart McDonald MP, Barry Gardiner MP, Afzal Khan MP, Martyn Day MP, Lyn Brown MP, Andy Slaughter MP and Keith Vaz MP.

Keith Vaz, who was chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016 when they carried out a small investigation into this issue, pledged to take up the cause once again.

“I’m sorry that we let you down in Parliament,” he told the students present. “This is a huge scandal… and it’s time that we revisit this in Parliament.

“We will be colluding with those who did this if we did not do everything we can to make sure justice is done.”

- Sign the petition here

- Visit our campaign page here

- Read the latest campaign updates here

- See media coverage of the campaign here