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Tuesday 09 July 2024

FDA responds to judicial review outcome

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The FDA has now received the outcome of our judicial review claim regarding the Civil Service Code and the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act, which was denied.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said of the outcome:

"Whilst it is of course disappointing that the claim was denied, the judge has upheld two important principles. Firstly, that if a minister refused to implement a Rule 39 order from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), this would indeed be a breach of international law. Secondly that civil servants’ statutory obligation to “comply with the law” includes international law."

Penman outlined why the union felt it was necessary to launch the judicial review: 

"In passing the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act 2024, the government made a series of contradictory claims regarding the legislation and its compatibility with international law. The Home Secretary, the Advocate General for Scotland and the Minister of State for illegal immigration all indicated it was compatible with international obligations. At the same time, ministers sought to reassure their party that they were prepared to ignore Rule 39 orders from the ECHR.

"This contradiction is why we sought clarity through judicial review. Civil servants were faced with legal obligations to comply with the law and a deliberate attempt by government to fudge this issue due to their own internal political differences.

"The court has ultimately decided that the then-government was explicit enough about the intent to break international law when passing the legislation, and that parliament had indeed sanctioned that possibility. Clarity is what we were seeking and the court has provided that.

"This was a deliberate act from government. The vagueness of their position reflected their own internal difficulties, and left the matter of whether domestic legislation was sufficient to supersede a civil servant’s obligations under the Civil Service Code in doubt.

The General Secretary added:

"No government should ever put the civil service in this position. We are grateful to the court for bringing clarity over this point, as well as establishing the principles around breaches of international law and civil servants’ obligations to uphold it."
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