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Profile of the week

Profile of the week: Anita Vasisht

On 13th October 2014 I agreed to represent five Palestinian children rescued from the conflict in Gaza by the UK government together with their mother and UK national father, Ali Dalloul.


The FCO had effectively abandoned the family in Amman. Although the parents could travel to safety in the UK, the children’s applications for entry clearance had been refused.


The children needed a lawyer to fight for them.


A friend of the family asked what I thought about it as a possible case to take on.


I said: “I like it.”


“Yes, but do you think they have any chance at all of winning?”


I thought about it for maybe half a second and replied: “Yes, I do.”


I then submitted appeal notices to the immigration tribunal and waited for a hearing date.


Fighting a legal case is a bit like playing chess. It’s all about strategy.


Sometimes, depending on the individual circumstances, it may be right and possible to publicise it.


On 25th October, Channel 4 News highlighted the family’s plight.


The visa section of the British Embassy in Jordan had agreed to reconsider their refusal decision, so now we waited for their answer.


It was bad news. They’d refused the applications a second time.


The family was distraught.


“Let’s focus on winning the appeal,” I said – although I was worried because people can wait a year for their appeals to be decided by an immigration judge.


I asked the tribunal to give us early hearing dates because of the family’s desperate circumstances. The tribunal agreed, but, even so, the earliest date was in March 2015!


The family was suffering. I had to do something to help these children.


And then I had an idea. A totally new idea.


I started thinking of arguments to force the government to back down urgently.


Given the exceptional circumstances of this case, there were no precedents. So I was all on my own – and my legal mind was coming up with quite radical arguments.


I sent my submissions to the government on Friday 21st November.


The government response: on Monday 24th November it agreed to reconsider the case.


On Thursday 27th November, a British Embassy official called me: it was okay. The children would get their visas ….


We won!


Here they are at Heathrow airport:


This week I am loving being a human rights lawyer!


Happy human rights day on 10th December!