Afghan Hijackers name ban lifted

Judge removes reporting restrictions in Judicial Review proceedings

The High Court today overturned an order preventing the press from identifying nine Afghans who hijacked an airliner in Afghanistan and held its occupants at gunpoint for four days at Stansted Airport in 2000.


Following a successful appeal against conviction in 2003, the hijackers secured permission to remain in the UK from a panel of Immigration Adjudicators. The panel ruled in 2004 that they could not be returned to Afghanistan without breach of their rights under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The panel’s proceedings were heard in camera.


The eight then sought judicial review of the Home Secretary’s refusal to grant them discretionary leave to remain in the UK under a new Humanitarian Protection and Discretionary Leave Policy. They obtained an order in September 2005 under CPR Part 39.2(4) protecting their anonymity as parties to those proceedings on the grounds that they that they and their families in Afghanistan would suffer harm as a result of such publicity and they would be deterred from seeking justice.


On Wednesday of this week Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that the Home Secretary’s actions had been unlawful and that the hijackers must be granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK.


The judge today rejected an application by the eight for a continuation of the anonymity order. He was satisfied that the identity of the nine was substantially in the public domain.


5RB‘s Adam Wolanski, instructed by Farrer and Co, appeared for News Group Newspapers and Associated Newspapers.