Alex Schymyck, of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law Team, instructed by Lewis Kett, Nicholas Hughes and Dominic Chambers of Duncan Lewis Solicitors for the Claimants.
Alex Schymyck was led by Nick Armstrong KC of Matrix Chambers.
In November 2022, there was a catastrophic power failure at Harmondsworth IRC, an immigration detention centre by Heathrow Airport. The Home Office were forced into a chaotic evacuation and the Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, wrongly blamed detainees for causing disruption at the centre.
From subsequent disclosure, it became clear that the Home Office had been frequently warned about the risk of a power failure and failed to take any steps to remedy the problem or plan for how it would deal with an emergency at the centre. As a result, vulnerable detainees with serious medical conditions experienced terrible conditions, including a lack of sufficient water and over 24 hours detained on a bus while being transferred to another detention centre.
In R(AK) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CO/4703/2022 and R(AJ) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CO/4709/2022, the Secretary of State for the Home Department has admitted that he breached his Public Sector Equality Duty through his failure to consider the need for an evacuation plan with reasonable adjustments for disabled detainees and that there was a breach of Article 3 ECHR in respect of one of the claimants through the failure to ensure he was provided with essential HIV medication. The Secretary of State for the Home Department also agreed to pay both claimants substantial damages for unlawful detention. The Secretary of State for the Home Department defended the case for almost a year before conceding at the end of the first day of a three day trial.
The Claimants were represented by Nick Armstrong KC of Matrix Chambers and Alex Schymyck of the Garden Court Chambers Public Law Team, instructed by Lewis Kett, Nicholas Hughes and Dominic Chambers of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.