Lawyers representing Mrs Horeau, who along with the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago were forcibly removed from their homes by the British Government around fifty years ago, has been granted permission in her judicial review claim, following a hearing today.
Law firm Leigh Day acted on behalf of Mrs Horeau against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs at a permission hearing held earlier today. Mrs Horeau is seeking a remedy for what she considers a historic injustice faced by the Chagossians at the hands of the UK Government; the exile of the entire population of the Chagos Archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s as part of plans for the establishment of a US naval base on the neighbouring island of Diego Garcia.
Proceedings against the UK Government were launched in 2017, challenging its refusal to allow Chagossians to return to their homelands. Ms Hoareau contends that the decision was unlawful because:
- The Secretary of State failed to recognise that his decision not to fund resettlement was not determinative of whether he should permit resettlement
- The decision was irrational and/or amounted to a disproportionate interference with the Chagossians’ fundamental right of abode in common law
- The decision was inadequately reasoned
- In taking the decision, the secretary of state failed conscientiously to take into account consultation responses.
Permission was granted on these grounds on the papers last year.
Today, the Divisional Court granted permission on the additional grounds that:
- The decision was arguably taken in breach of the public sector equality duty
- The decision was arguably an unlawful interference with the rights of the Chagossians, protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Giving judgment on the permission application, Singh LJ considered the ECHR claim raised a potentially important issue of law in relation to the interaction between Articles 1 and 56 of the ECHR. The Divisional Court accepted that it was arguable the exercise of effective control by the UK may mean that the territory is "within the [UK’s] jurisdiction" for the purposes of Article 1 ECHR notwithstanding the fact that the UK has not made an explicit declaration under Article 56 of the ECHR extending the application of the Convention to the Chagos Islands.
A substantive hearing is listed for 14-18 May this year.
Rosa Curling, a human rights lawyer from Leigh Day who is representing the CCS and Mrs Horeau, said:
"Today is an important milestone in the Chagossians fifty-year fight for what is rightly theirs. We hope the Courts will finally provide them with the justice they deserve and allow them to return home."