AE, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Brent, Court of Appeal - Administrative Court, October 05, 2018, [2018] EWHC 2574 (Admin)

Resolution Date:October 05, 2018
Issuing Organization:Administrative Court
Actores:AE, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Brent
 
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Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWHC 2574 (Admin)

Case No: CO/2224/2017

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION

ADMINISTRATIVE COURT

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 05/10/2018

Before :

HER HONOUR JUDGE EADY QC

(Sitting as a High Court Judge)

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Between :

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KAREN REID (instructed by Duncan Lewis, Solicitors) for the Claimant

ZOE WHITTINGTON (instructed by Brent Legal Services) for the Defendant

Hearing dates: 26 September 2018

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HER HONOUR JUDGE EADY QC:

Introduction

  1. This is the final hearing of the Claimant's application for judicial review, permission having been granted on two grounds by Karon Monaghan QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, on 18 July 2018.

  2. The claim was issued on 10 May 2017. Over the course of the proceedings, the issues between the parties have narrowed; the Claimant now identifies the questions for the Court as follows:

    i) Is the Defendant's position, that the Claimant and her children should be housed within a 60-minute journey of the Claimant's parents and the children's school: (i) unreasonable on Wednesbury grounds (Associated Provincial Picture Houses Ltd v Wednesbury Corporation [1948] 1KB 223); (ii) a breach of the Claimant's article 8 right to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights (``the ECHR'')?

    ii) In any event, has the Defendant acted unreasonably by failing to make an offer of accommodation to the Claimant within the geographical area it has thus identified?

  3. When giving permission, Ms Monaghan QC also made an anonymization order, directing that the identities of the Claimant and her children should not be disclosed in any Court documents or Judgments. With this in mind, I have referred to the children as ``X'' and ``Y'' in this Judgment and have sought to avoid giving unnecessary detail regarding the Claimant's criminal conviction.

    The Factual Background

  4. The Claimant is the mother of two sons; her eldest (``X'') was born on [a date in] 2008, and is now aged 9, her youngest son (``Y'') was born on [a date in] 2013 and is now 5 years old. The Claimant has lived in Brent for some 13 years and her immediate family live in the borough. Her children have been brought up in Brent and both now attend a local primary school.

  5. In 2014, the Claimant was sentenced to 28 months and 7 days' imprisonment in respect of a terrorist related offence, seemingly at the instigation of her then husband, who had left the UK in 2013 to support a jihadist cause.

  6. The Claimant was first released from prison on 8 July 2015 but recalled after breaching the terms of her licence and returned to custody until 9 September 2016. Upon her release, she was initially subject to probation supervision and she has a continuing obligation to report to counterintelligence on a regular basis and is prohibited from accessing social media.

  7. When the Claimant was in prison, her children lived with their maternal grandparents; an arrangement that continued after the Claimant's release, albeit she always intended that they would return to live with her once she had secured appropriate accommodation. Upon her initial release in July 2015, the Claimant joined her children at her parents' home and, whilst there, made an application to the Defendant's housing department; the view was taken, however, that the Defendant owed the Claimant no duty under the Housing Act 1996 as she had made herself intentionally homeless when she abandoned her previous accommodation while serving a prison sentence. When released in September 2016, the Claimant approached the Defendant's housing department once again, but it declined to re-consider her application, although the Claimant was provided with temporary accommodation for the period immediately following her release. That temporary accommodation was provided solely for the Claimant and had ceased by the time of the claim in these proceedings, at which point the Claimant was homeless.

  8. Meanwhile, it seems that the Defendant's housing department referred the Claimant's case to social care, which, through its children's services team, accepted that X and Y were children in need for the purposes of section 17 Children Act 1989 and agreed to provide assistance to the Claimant in her efforts to look for suitable and affordable accommodation for the family; it was further agreed that financial assistance would be made available, up to £5,000, should the Claimant need a deposit to secure a particular property.

  9. Given the nature of her offences, the Claimant was subject to a multi-agency protection agreement (``MAPPA'') and the Defendant has said that it continued to consult with other agencies in relation to its attempts to assist the Claimant secure private sector accommodation. Having initially identified two one-bedroom flats in south London (both unsuitable given the size of the accommodation), on 8 March 2017 the Defendant made two offers to the Claimant of two-bedroom properties, one in Kidderminster and one in Dulwich. The Claimant rejected these offers as unsuitable given the distances of each property from the Brent area, where her only support network was located - of particular importance given the ties her children had to their maternal grandparents and aunt and given her own vulnerabilities.

  10. It is unclear precisely how the Defendant had assessed these offers to be suitable given that no Child and Family Assessment (``CFA'') had been carried out at that stage and the evidence I have seen from the Claimant's former probation officer (set out in an email of 17 December 2016) suggests that other agencies attending MAPPA meetings with the Defendant had ``made clear that it would not be in the children's best interest to be moved so far away from the only support network (i.e. [the Claimant's] family) given all the issues that they are experiencing and the fact that it will leave her vulnerable to further extremist exploitation should she be moved to an area where she has no support.'' It seems the Defendant had initially considered the possibility of an even more distant location and this observation may have been directed to that, but both offers would still have involved a journey of over an hour from the Claimant's parents' home and X's school (the Kidderminster property was between 3-4 hours' away; the Dulwich accommodation around 1 ½ hours).

  11. The concerns raised by other agencies in the MAPPA meetings reflect the conclusions reached in earlier reports, both in relation to the children (the Crown Court having ordered a pre-sentence report from a Dr Sharon Pettle, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, which discussed the traumatic impact of events on X and Y), and the Claimant (a Psychologist's report having been undertaken for the National Offender Management Service before her release, regarding the potential risk of the Claimant re-offending, and advising of her potential vulnerability to external influences...

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