Palestinian refugee wants Supreme Court judges to rule he's 26 not 31

Palestinian refugee who went on hunger strike in bizarre row with Home Office over his age now wants Supreme Court judges to rule he’s 26 and not 31 as officials claim

  • The Palestinian refugee wants the Supreme Court justices to consider his case
  • He claims he is 26 but immigration officials suggest his age is in fact 31 
  • Went on hunger strike in April after turned down for Nightingale Hospital job 
  • He has since launched legal appeal to get his date of birth officially changed 

A Palestinian refugee who went on hunger strike in a bizarre row with the Home Office about his age wants Supreme Court justices to consider his case.

The man, who settled in Bristol after fleeing his home in Gaza a decade ago, says he was born on December 29, 1994 and is 26, but immigration officials say evidence shows he was born on April 19, 1989 and have assessed his age as 31.

He took legal action in a bid to force the Home Office to change his date of birth.

A Palestinian refugee who went on hunger strike in a row with the Home Office over his age. claiming he is actually 26, not 31, wants the Supreme Court (pictured) to consider his case

An immigration tribunal judge dismissed his claim in September and three Court of Appeal judges dismissed his appeal against that decision in January.

Appeal judges concluded that his age had been ‘necessarily and properly’ the subject of assessment and said the evidence was not capable of establishing that his claimed birth date was right.

Lawyers representing him have now made an application to the Supreme Court.

A court spokeswoman said the man had asked Supreme Court justices to give him permission to mount a challenge.

Justices will first decide whether he has an arguable case and the spokeswoman said no date had been fixed for a hearing.

Judges have ruled that the man cannot be identified in media reports of the case.

The refugee’s hunger strike began when he was rejected as a Nightingale Hospital Bristol (pictured) volunteer because the birth date he gave did not match that of his residence permit

They have heard how he was born in Gaza, in the Occupied Palestinian territories, and that when he was young he had been ‘severely mistreated’ by resistance movement Hamas for refusing to act as a suicide bomber.

After his family arranged for him to flee Gaza, he claimed asylum after arriving in the UK in 2007, was placed with a foster family, and now has indefinite leave to remain.

The man applied to be a volunteer at a Nightingale hospital in Bristol during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic but his application was rejected because his claimed birth date did not match the date on his residence permit.

He went on hunger strike for months and was admitted to Bristol’s Southmead Hospital in April. 

Appeal judges explained, in January, how that rejection had trigged a ‘serious relapse’ in his mental state, he had refused to eat or drink and been admitted to hospital.

They said he had been accepting ‘some clinically assisted nutrition and hydration’ while litigation continued.

Home Secretary Priti Patel recognised that the man’s circumstances evoked the ‘greatest sympathy’ but nevertheless resisted his appeal and argued that she was under no obligation to change his birth date, appeal judges said.

The man went on hunger strike for months and was admitted to Bristol’s Southmead Hospital (pictured) in April

Appeal judges said ‘no effort’ should be spared in encouraging the man to ‘choose life’.

The NHS mounted its own legal challenge for the right to force feed him – but in July, the courts ruled the man had the right to refuse food.

Judges said he was now accepting ‘some clinically assisted nutrition and hydration’ pending the outcome of the appeal, but warned his life was in ‘imminent danger’.

In July, hospital bosses responsible for the man’s care asked a judge in the Court of Protection – where issues relating to people who might lack the mental capacity to take decisions for themselves are analysed – to consider the man’s case. 

Mr Justice Hayden decided against authorising medics to provide the man with nutrition and hydration by artificial means against his will.

The judge said every effort should be made to ‘persuade, cajole and encourage’ the man to accept nutrition and hydration.

But the judge concluded that the man should be allowed to say ‘no’ if he wanted to.

Home Office figures show that between 2016 and 2020, just over half of all asylum seekers whose age was checked after they claimed to be under 18 were found to be adults. 

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