CAMPAIGNERS are set to appeal after losing a High Court bid to force the Home Office to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees accepted under the Dubs scheme.
The Help Refugees charity argued yesterday that the consultation process was “fundamentally flawed” because it was based on Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s calculation that just 480 should be allowed into Britain.
The Dubs amendment to the 2016 Immigration Act has, from May last year, required the Home Secretary to relocate from Europe “a specified number” of vulnerable refugee children.
During a hearing in June, judges were told that local authorities were meant to let the Home Office know which areas of the country were ready to take lone asylum-seeking children.
The charity accused the government of failing to carry out a full nationwide consultation. It had hoped to secure court orders requiring Ms Rudd to reopen the exercise so that consideration could be given to whether more children could be accepted.
Government lawyers responded by arguing that nothing illegal had been done.
Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed the charity’s application for judicial review, ruling: “Overall, having considered the criticisms made as to the requirements for a fair consultation, we are not persuaded that the claimant’s case is made out.”
Help Refugees chief executive Josie Naughton said: “There are young unaccompanied children sleeping rough in Europe completely unprepared for the coming winter. We intend to appeal.”
The court case did, however, gain 130 extra places for vulnerable children, confirmed Rosa Curling of the human rights team at law firm Leigh Day.
But she added that the implementation of the Dubs amendment had been “seriously defective.”
Lord Dubs, after whom the amendment is named, urged ministers to reconsult local authorities.
The Labour peer, who came to Britain as a boy to escape the nazis, said many councils were confused by the process but have since “expressed a willingness to take more child refugees.”
In the Commons, his party colleague Thelma Walker pointed out that the right to legal aid had been removed from refugee family reunion cases in 2012.
The Colne Valley MP said: “We need the UK to be a world leader on this issue. We need swift action to reunite families.
“Think about these children lying scared in a cold camp, frightened for their life, just across the Channel with no-one to hold them.”