Speaking for Ourselves

Eight years of injustice: It's time for the Home Office to face up and pay up

Eight years of injustice: It's time for the Home Office to face up and pay up


 Migrant Voice - Eight years of injustice: It's time for the Home Office to face up and pay up


A second BBC Newsnight programme, broadcast on 23 February, again highlighted the huge miscarriage of justice affecting tens of thousands of international students due to the Home Office's insistence on using flawed evidence to take action against them.

Eight years ago, tens of thousands of students were wrongly accused of cheating on an English-language test and were forced to return their countries because, overnight, they were barred from their courses and from working in Britain, renting accommodation or using the NHS. Some were detained. Some were deported. Those who stayed to fight for justice found their lives were wrecked. Many were forced to borrow money to survive, or to pay lawyers' fees. One of the students from our #MyFutureBack campaign, Asiya Iram, who was interviewed on the programme, had to borrow £80,000.

Patrick Lewis, a barrister involved in the students' struggle to clear their names, told the programme that the Home Office had failed to look properly at the evidence on which the cheating claims were based. Asked to comment on the injustice, the Home Office said that the evidence on which it based its decision to cancel the visas of 56,000 students in one foul swoop in 2014 was sufficient to take action. Migrant Voice's #MyFutureBack campaign with the students agrees with Patrick Lewis and does not accept the Home Office's flawed statement.

Newsnight has spotlighted the weakness of the evidence on which this whole injustice was based, and its interviews have shown the appallingly high emotional and financial costs with which the unfortunate students are still struggling. Justice must be seen to be done before another tragic eight years have passed.

The Home Office must acknowledge its responsibility for this injustice and stop repeating statements, now proven to be meaningless, claiming that they had sufficient evidence to upturn the lives of thousands of international students.

BBC Newsnight reporter Richard Watson said there are now 26 compensation claims underway against the Home Office. He pointed out that some cases would now be judged inadmissible because of time limits. Patrick Lewis said: "There is clear advantage to the Home Office for the proceedings to have been protracted due to the fact that of course individuals will have fallen outside of any ability to obtain compensation."

What is needed to solve this huge miscarriage of justice is a straightforward, low-cost, fair-for-all mechanism for students to clear their names - and support to get their futures back. This will also require compensation.

Watch BBC Newsnight's report here

Image credit: screenshot/BBC Newsnight

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Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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