Council ordered to house mother and 12-week-old son pending legal challenge

A council has been ordered by the High Court to temporarily house a mother and her 12-week-old son to prevent them being made homeless ahead of a legal challenge.

Camden Council assessed the child, referred to only as OA, as not being a “child in need” and therefore entitled to local authority accommodation.

But lawyers representing OA and his mother AA, who is originally from Nigeria, argue that the decision was unlawful and are challenging the assessment.

At a hearing in London on Monday, Grainne Mellon asked the High Court to order Camden Council to accommodate OA and his mother until it is decided whether their claim can go ahead.

She submitted that the interim relief sought would “prevent the claimant from becoming street homeless and … protect and safeguard the welfare of this new-born baby pending the determination of permission (for) the claim”.

She told the court that the hospital in which OA was born in April “would not release him” initially as his mother was unable to provide an accommodation address.

Ms Mellon said the council housed the family until earlier this month, when it “unlawfully terminated that accommodation”.

She added that since then OA and his mother had been helped by two charities, who were “preventing this family from sleeping on the street”.

She said the pair first stayed in accommodation provided by Project 17, a charity working with destitute migrants, and later at an accommodation centre run by volunteers, where they had been sleeping “on a sofa in the office of that organisation”.

That accommodation, she said, was not available beyond Monday afternoon, meaning OA and his mother had “nowhere to go as of this evening”.

Ms Mellon added that OA was “entitled to Finnish citizenship through his father, who is a dual Nigerian-Finnish citizen”, which she said meant “this child has a right to reside in the UK now under EU law”.

Hilton Harrop-Griffiths, representing Camden Council, defended its conclusion that OA’s mother was not destitute, arguing that her responses to questions as part of the assessment suggested “obfuscation”.

He submitted that Camden Council was “perfectly entitled” to have concluded that “she is hiding something”.

Granting the application for interim relief, Judge David Pittaway QC said: “It seems to me that … the interim relief should be granted for as short a period as possible.”

He ordered the council to provide accommodation to OA and his mother until their application for permission to bring a legal challenge against the assessment has been decided.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) London Borough of Camden.