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Woman homeless after terrorism offences loses High Court challenge over housing

A woman who had become homeless while imprisoned for terrorism offences did not have her human rights breached by the London Borough of Brent in its decisions on housing her and her children, the High Court has ruled.

HHJ Judge Eady said in AE, R (On the Application Of) v London Borough of Brent [2018] EWHC 2574 (Admin) that Brent’s decision that claimant AE should be housed within a 60-minute journey of her parents and the two children's school was neither Wednesbury unreasonable nor a breach of Article 8 rights to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

AE was in 2014 jailed for 28 months and seven days in respect of a terrorist related offence, “seemingly at the instigation of her then husband, who had left the UK in 2013 to support a jihadist cause”, the court noted.

Her children lived during this time with their maternal grandparents.

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On her release Brent decided it owed no duty under the Housing Act 1996 as AE had made herself intentionally homeless when she went to prison.

Brent’s child social care team accepted though that the children were in need under section 17 Children Act 1989 and agreed to help AE find suitable accommodation for the family.

She was offered homes in Dulwich and Kidderminster and later in Staffordshire but rejected these on grounds of distance from the grandparents and the children’s school.

After AE issued proceedings and an application for urgent interim relief she was provided with temporary accommodation, first in Southall and later in Harlesden.

HHJ Eady said Brent’s subsequent acceptance that AE should be accommodated within 60 minutes of the grandparents and the school meant “the force of the claimant's complaints falls away”.

She said this “really disposes of the ECHR point”, as Brent’s position now “gives rise to no interference with the private and family life of the claimant and her children such as would engage article 8”.

The judge went on say there was “no proper basis for saying [Brent] is acting unreasonably in how it now defines the relevant parameters for any offer of accommodation made pursuant to its section 17 obligations”.

“The conclusion that properties within a reasonable 60-minute commute might – if otherwise suitable and affordable – be offered to the claimant is not unreasonable in any public law sense”, she concluded.

Mark Smulian

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