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Foreign convicts seeking to block deportation orders in human rights case

Published 11/01/2016

The Supreme Court will rule on the case
The Supreme Court will rule on the case

Foreign convicts are asking seven Supreme Court justices to block their deportation on human rights grounds.

The two men, referred to as HA and ZM, are an Iraqi national convicted of drugs offences and a Tunisian jailed for grievous bodily harm and weapon possession who say that removing them from the UK would be incompatible with their "right to a family life" under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Their appeals to the highest court in the land - one from the England and Wales jurisdiction and the other from Northern Ireland - are expected to lay down guidelines for future similar cases.

Critics' complaints that thousands of foreign offenders have used human rights laws to stay in the UK are at the forefront of calls to scrap the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European convention into domestic law.

Both appeals are being heard on Tuesday by a panel headed by Lord Neuberger, the court's president, and deputy president Lady Hale. Other panel members are Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes and Lord Thomas.

Failed asylum seeker HA, an Iraqi national who came to the UK in 2000, remained without permission and was convicted and fined for possession of controlled drugs in 2005.

In December 2006 the 39-year-old was convicted of two counts of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and sentenced to four years imprisonment.

An automatic deportation order was made against him by Home Secretary Theresa May in October 2010 under the UK Borders Act 2007.

His lawyers are arguing that he has a long-standing relationship with his fiancee, a British citizen, and the weight being given by the Government to the public interest in deporting foreign criminals is incompatible with his right to a family life under Article 8.

Father-of-two ZM married a UK citizen in 1996 and she gave birth to a daughter the following year, when he also entered the UK. He was granted indefinite leave to remain in 1999.

He and his wife separated, but he remained in the UK and lived with another partner, who gave birth to a son in 2006.

Papers before the Supreme Court judges state he pleaded guilty in 2005 to offences committed in 2003 of assault causing grievous bodily harm and possession of an offensive weapon and was sentenced to three years and three months imprisonment.

After his conviction, ZM was not required to go back to prison because of the time he had served on remand, but was subsequently convicted of a number of less serious offences.

The Home Secretary ordered his deportation in October 2012 on the basis of his conviction after rejecting his claim that his removal would infringe his Article 8 family rights.

Among the issues being considered by the Supreme Court are whether Mrs May failed properly to consider the Article 8 rights of his children, and what was in their best interests, before the decision to remove their father was taken.

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