On 14 August, an Iranian Kurdish photographer and film maker’s asylum appeal to the First-tier Tribunal was allowed at first instance. In allowing the appeal, the judge found it reasonably likely that the appellant would be arrested by the Iranian authorities for supporting a Kurdish opposition group through his work. The appellant was represented by Grace Brown of Garden Court Chambers.
The appellant had also recently converted to Christianity. The Home Office tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent the appellant's conversion to Christianity being determined on appeal by trying to refuse permission for this ‘new matter’ to be determined under Section 85 of the Immigration Act 2014.
In allowing the appeal, the judge recorded her experience of having attended asylum screening interviews, noting that she is “more than familiar with the mistakes, misinterpretations and mistranslations that may occur in these encounters” and helpfully re-affirmed the purpose of such interviews, for example to register the claim, take details of the individual concerned and to elicit information needed to make preparation for the substantive claim, and therefore their limitations as a basis for undermining an asylum claim.
Grace Brown, counsel for the appellant, commented on the decision:
"Practitioners with experience in this field will know that far too frequently the Home Office will attempt to undermine a claim by reference to what is recorded in a screening interview. Hopefully this decision will assist in reducing the frequency of that practice."