Author: Sam Tobin at the Court of Appeal
NIGERIAN woman Kehinde Oladele, who has been unable to afford vital prescription medicine while barred from employment pending an immigration appeal, finally received permission to work today.
Ms Oladele, whose health has deteriorated while she waits for her legal battle for indefinite leave to remain in Britain to come to court, won the right to work after a judge found her case was “so exceptional” that her application for interim relief should be granted.
Lord Justice Irwin said that, as her case was unlikely to be heard for at least a year, she should be “permitted to work so that she can pay for literally potentially life-saving medication.”
Ms Oladele was refused indefinite leave to remain in April 2016, simply because the earnings declared in her application did not match those stated in a tax return filed years earlier.
Her challenge to the decision was refused under paragraph 322(5) of the Home Office’s immigration rules, which allows it to prevent someone remaining in Britain in light of their “conduct … character or associations or the fact that [they represent] a threat to national security.”
Ms Oledele’s case has been stayed pending a number of test cases brought by others who have also been denied leave to remain under paragraph 322(5), which will be heard in January.
She told the Court of Appeal that she had contacted the Home Office last July and again in January, pleading for the right to work so that she would be able to pay for her medication, but, she added, “they said I have to go to court.”
Ms Oladele said she feared she could “lose my life or have a heart attack … [the Home Office] promised to review the case since May, but nothing yet.
“At the moment, I am dying. I have nothing.
“For the last two years I have been fighting this case … it’s been so hard for me and I don’t want to die.”
Susan Chan, representing the Home Office, said allowing Ms Oladele to work might create a “precedent” and warned that “there could be potentially many other applicants which would be similarly asking to work.”
The court granted Ms Oladele the right to work, but emphasised that the decision did not set a precedent.
Lord Justice Irwin acknowledged that she “has really serious health problems,” including high blood pressure, which he said was clearly “a consequence of serious kidney problems,” and had built up “considerable debt” while unable to work.
The judge said that, as the court had no power to order that Ms Oladele be provided with free prescriptions, the court was faced with a “stark choice” — “either the applicant remains in her dire state of health … or the only way that can be avoided is that she should be permitted to work.”
He said that this was “a wholly exceptional case” and that Ms Oladele was “in a powerless condition as to her health that is the direct consequence of the absence of resources.
“It cannot be addressed in any other way than permitting her to work.”