Ghanaian woman sues UK Home Office, wins landmark immigration case

Ghanaian woman sues UK Home Office, wins landmark immigration case
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Ghanaian woman sues UK Home Office, wins landmark immigration case

In a significant legal victory, Cecilia Adjei, a Ghanaian mother of two, has won a case against the UK Home Office regarding her immigration status.

The High Court ruling highlights the Home Office’s failure to provide necessary documentation to thousands of migrants, putting their legal status and livelihoods at risk.

Cecilia Adjei, who migrated to the UK in 2000 and works as a healthcare support worker, joined forces with the charity organisation Ramfel to sue the Home Office. The case revolved around the Home Office’s failure to issue ‘3C leave’ documentation, which serves as temporary legal status while visa extension applications are processed. This oversight left many migrants, including Adjei, vulnerable to job losses and unable to access essential services such as healthcare and housing.

Justice Cavanagh, who presided over the case, ruled that the Home Office’s actions were unlawful. He emphasised the significant hardship faced by those on 3C leave due to the lack of immediate documentary proof of their immigration status. The judge stated, “The underlying purpose of the legislative framework is that there should be a hostile and unwelcoming environment for those who are unlawfully present and so who are undocumented. The corollary of this is that those who are lawfully here should not face the hostile environment. That can only happen if they are documented.”

Adjei praised the court’s decision, recounting her personal ordeal during the process. She was suspended from her job twice because she could not prove her legal right to work, causing severe financial hardship. “I have two children and have to budget very carefully, so we suffered real hardship when my wages suddenly stopped. I had to borrow money and visit a food bank just to get by,” she said.

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The ruling has drawn comparisons to the Windrush scandal, where many long-term UK residents from the Caribbean were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, and threatened with deportation due to lack of documentation.

Nick Beales, head of campaigning at Ramfel, criticised the government’s continued failures despite assurances of learning from past mistakes. “Time and again the government’s hostile environment traps and targets people with every right to be in the UK. They assured us they had learned from the Windrush scandal, but these words were clearly hollow,” he said.

UK Home Office
UK Home Office

Janet Farrell, a partner at Bhatt Murphy solicitors representing the claimants, hailed the ruling as a significant victory for those affected by the Home Office’s oversight. “This is a significant victory for my clients and all those who through no fault of their own are left undocumented in an environment which demands proof of immigration status in order to access work, housing, and healthcare,” she said.

A Home Office spokesperson stated, “We are carefully considering the judgment. It would be inappropriate to comment further on ongoing legal proceedings.”

The case underscores the urgent need for the Home Office to rectify its procedures and ensure that migrants legally residing in the UK are not unjustly penalised.

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