Child Refugees Campaigners Plan Appeal As High Court Rejects Numbers Challenge

Campaigners have expressed their “bitter disappointment” after losing a High Court challenge against the Government over the number of unaccompanied child refugees accepted into the UK under the Dubs scheme.

But they immediately vowed to fight on following a ruling against them by two judges in London on Thursday.

The charity Help Refugees went to court claiming that the consultation process by which Home Secretary Amber Rudd calculated that only 480 should be accepted was ”fundamentally flawed”.

It had sought court orders to force her to abandon the cap and reopen the consultation process so consideration could be given to allowing more children in.

Help Refugees announced plans to appeal after Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed its 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.”

Government lawyers contested the case, arguing that there was no illegality.

Rosa Curling, from the human rights team at law firm Leigh Day, who represents Help Refugees, said: “This litigation has already brought about very significant advances – 130 extra places for vulnerable children were added as the direct result of this litigation.

“The Government was also forced to accept that the children to be transferred under the Dubs Amendment were additional to the children the Government already had to transfer under EU law.

“Our clients continue to believe that the way in which the Dubs Amendment has been implemented is seriously defective. We have sought permission to appeal.”

Josie Naughton, founder and chief executive officer of Help Refugees Ltd, said: “We are bitterly disappointed by this result but also very proud of what our litigation has already achieved.”

She said: “There are young unaccompanied children sleeping rough in Europe completely unprepared for the coming winter. We intend to appeal.”

The Dubs Amendment was to the 2016 Immigration Act and, from May last year, required the Home Secretary to make arrangements to relocate “a specified number” of vulnerable refugee children from Europe based on feedback from local authorities.

During a hearing in June, the judges were told that local authorities were meant, under the Dubs Amendment, to let the Home Office know which areas of the country were ready to take unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

But the charity claimed there was a Government failure to carry out a full UK-wide consultation.

Labour peer Lord Dubs, the architect of the Dubs Amendment, who came to the UK as a refugee from the Nazis, has urged ministers to reconsult local authorities, saying that many confused by the process have since “expressed a willingness to take more child refugees”.