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Operation Nexus Hearing

5 May 2017

On the 4th of May, Mrs Justice McGowan sitting in the High Court finished hearing a challenge brought by the AIRE Centre against Operation Nexus.

Operation Nexus is a joint initiative between the Home Office Immigration Enforcement and the Metropolitan Police Service to verify the immigration status of, and gather information from, foreign nationals, including EEA nationals, who come into contact with the police, in order to check their right to reside in the UK.

The Court heard that this policy is carried out systematically, beyond any legitimate Police purpose, and is therefore contrary to EU and domestic law. The Home Office provided the court with pro-forma questions asked under Operation Nexus. The AIRE Centre argues that these questions are part of a verification procedure and that, in some cases, it has led to EEA nationals being served with removal papers based simply on the answers they gave to these questions.

Lawyers for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner maintain that Police officers can ask such questions, either on the street, or in a Police station, just as any member of the public could. They told the Court there did not need to be any specified police powers in order to ask EEA nationals questions about their work history, family and what they were doing in the UK. This information is then passed on to the Home Office with a view to taking removal action. It was argued on behalf of the AIRE Centre that the law requires the police to ask questions for a specified police purpose, something which is absent here.

Mrs Justice McGowan reserved her judgment. Her decision could have significant implications for the Home Office and Police and her decision will be keenly awaited by those advising and assisting EEA nationals. 

The AIRE Centre was represented by Zubier Yazdani of Deighton Pierce Glynn solicitors who instructed Dan Squires QC of Matrix chambers. You can read the skeleton argument here.

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