Academic's film used as evidence in refugee legal battle

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A film made by a Goldsmiths academic highlighting the plight of refugee children is to be used as “cornerstone” evidence in a High Court Judicial Review being launched this week.

A child refugee on a bicycle at the Jungle camp in Calais.

Child refugees at the Jungle camp in Calais. Pic: Sue Clayton

Professor Sue Clayton’s work Calais Children: A Case To Answer has been submitted as part of a challenge to the Home Office over its treatment of child refugees. 

Professor Clayton, from the Department of Media and Communications, has also given a witness statement for the Judicial Review which begins on Wednesday 28 February at the Royal Courts Of Justice.

Her work in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais forms a key part of the challenge which is being brought by the Public Law team at Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

They are bringing a challenge against the Home Secretary for failing to meet the terms of the Dubs Amendment which enshrined in law the relocation of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries to the UK, but which the Government closed in February 2017.

The legal team took up the case after being urged to visit the Jungle by Professor Clayton, who had also helped organise a census of the children living in the Jungle which found that up to 2,000 lone youngsters were living amid chaos and danger.

Led by Toufique Hossain, director of Public Law at Duncan Lewis, a 10-strong team of legal experts worked alongside Professor Clayton and the organisation Social Workers Without Borders to give advice and support to unaccompanied youngsters in their applications to come to the UK under the Dubs Amendment.

Now the firm is representing an Afghan youngster at “high risk of exploitation”, known as ZS, in a challenge against the Government’s policy.

As well as being used in the High Court, Professor Clayton’s work Calais Children: A Case To Answer is also due to be screened in Parliament next month and has played 100 times across Europe.

Mr Hossain said: “We have worked continually with Sue over the last 16 months to secure the future of these children – both by continuing to support and advise them, and by bringing to the High Court this week, the most urgent of their cases.  

“Sue's commitment to this issue has been extraordinary and has brought us to the point we are now, in court and soon to screen the film in Parliament. Her documentary evidence is a cornerstone of the legal challenge, and speaks volumes in human terms about the pain that has been caused by the UK’s failure to fulfil their legal obligations.”

Professor Clayton said: “This film was made not only as a movie for people to watch, but also as a witness statement to take to the UK courts as we pursue our case to get these kids to safety.

“The film needed to be the perfect balance between an empathetic account of them and their lives, and a razor-sharp indictment of the government’s position.”