Landmark ruling allows mother to remain in UK

The child's well being overrides most other considerations, the judge found.
The child's well being overrides most other considerations, the judge found.

By Ian Dunt

A landmark court ruling allowing a mother to stay in the UK because of her children could have far-reaching effects in immigration law.

The supreme court ruled that ZH, an anonymous Tanzanian woman who has two young children through a British partner, could not be removed from the country due to the effect on her children.

Because the children would also have to leave the country if the mother was removed, the court agreed to allow ZH to remain in the UK.

The judgement was enthusiastically received by children's rights groups.

"The court has now set in stone the need to recognise the rights of the child and has sought to address the injustice done to children when immigration control is put before their welfare and needs," Syd Bolton and Baljeet Sandhu, co-directors of the Refugee Children's Rights Project, said in a statement.

Lord Kerr ruled that concerns about the best interest of the child overruled most other considerations.

The ruling also insisted on the importance of discovering the child's own view before a judgement was taken.

"We are calling for the courts, the UK Border Agency and the Legal Services Commission to put in place child-sensitive procedures to ensure that this judgment is given full effect in their duties to safeguard children, and that in all decisions about children and their families, their best interests should customarily dictate the outcome," the Refugee Children's Rights Project stated.

The ruling comes as the treatment of children in immigration cases comes in for further scrutiny.

As part of the coalition agreement, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg promised that the government would end the detention of children in immigration centres.