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(Administrative Court; Burton J; 3 August 2009)
The asylum seeker claimed to be under 16. An age assessment completed by a social worker and placement manager concluded that the asylum seeker was nearly 18; although it was accepted that he was therefore still a child, he was outside the age at which the Secretary of State would usually give discretionary leave to remain. The asylum seeker sought judicial review of the age assessment on the basis, inter alia, that the assessment should have included the opinion of his key worker. Although he did not reveal this in the early correspondence, the solicitor for the asylum seeker had already spoken to the key worker. The social worker reviewed the assessment, consulting with the key worker, but did not disclose what the key worker had said and did not revise the age assessment. Just before completion of the assessment review, but too late to be taken into account within the review, the solicitor for the asylum seeker completed an affidavit in which he claimed that the key worker had said to him that in his opinion the asylum seeker was younger than the age given in the assessment.
There had been too speedy a resort to reviewing the report. The social worker had not given the asylum seeker an opportunity to comment on the findings of the review, or taken into account the views of the asylum seeker, particularly the solicitor's statement. There was a real risk that the authority had failed to take into account material information, namely a view by someone who, it was common ground, would have been in a position to give that view, albeit not a qualified age assessor, that is a person who spent 5 hours a week with the asylum seeker, which could have been of value on the review assessment report and which, if it had been in favour of the asylum seeker, might have made a difference
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