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Tribunal rejects age assessment claim against council

The Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) has thrown out a challenge brought by an asylum seeker over an age assessment by the London Borough of Haringey.

Tribunal Judge Frances ruled that applicant AS’s date of birth was 16 December 1999 and so he was over 18 on arrival in the UK. The tribunal heard that Haringey has assessed AS’s date of birth as 12 October 1997, while he had claimed it was 16 December 2001. Deputy High Court Judge Jeremy Johnson QC transferred the claim to the Upper Tribunal for a fact-finding hearing to determine AS’s age.

AS was born in Eritrea and left when aged three after his father was killed and his mother fled to Sudan. He left Sudan aged 15 because of political activities on 9 April 2017 and travelled via Turkey, Greece and France before arriving in the UK on 28 December 2018.

AS claimed asylum and completed the initial contact and asylum registration questionnaire in which his date of birth was recorded as 12 October 2001. A social worker completed the age assessment for Haringey and the council argued this had been Merton compliant.

Haringey said there were so many discrepancies in AS's story and elements which were unlikely that his account was not credible and the social workers were entitled to reject his claim about his age. AS could not be believed and the decision that he was over 21 was open to the authority.

Judge Frances said: “There is no burden of proof on either party and it is open to the Tribunal to reach a conclusion that is different from both the claimed age and the assessed age.”

The judge did not find AS a credible witness as he gave inconsistent evidence about significant events, his claim to have left school when he was eight years old was not credible, he gave different dates of birth to different people and failed to voluntarily disclose he was granted asylum in Greece.

Judge Frances did not accept that AS gave his date of birth as 16 December 2001 to the police or Haringey when he arrived in the UK nor that Haringey wrongly recorded this as 12 October 2001.

“The logical inference to be drawn from this is that the applicant gave 12 October 2001 as his date of birth on arrival in the UK in order to conceal his asylum claim in Greece where he gave his date of birth as 16 December 1999,” the judge said.

"I acknowledge that the applicant's motivation for failing to disclose his successful asylum claim could be because he was in fear of return to poor conditions in the camp in Greece, but that does not alter the fact that the applicant gave misleading information on arrival in the UK.”

But the judge found Haringey’s assessment was not Merton compliant and was further devalued by poor note taking.

Judge Frances concluded: “I find it more likely than not that the applicant's date of birth is that given to the Greek authorities: 16 December 1999.”

Permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal was refused as there was no arguable case that Judge Frances erred in law.

No costs order was made because of the finding that Haringey’s age assessment was not Merton compliant.

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