A judge in the Court of Session has said Theresa May “acted unreasonably” when as Home Secretary she rejected a Tamil Tiger’s asylum application after he said he risked death if returned.
Lord Boyd of Duncansby said that Ms May wrongly rejected the man’s bid to stay in Scotland.
He said she had been “too ready to dismiss” letters from the man’s sister detailing threats he faced in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Tigers, who fought for an independent state on the island in a long-running war between its two ethnic groups: the Tamils and the Sinhalese, were defeated in 2009.
Numerous Tamil militants fled the island in the wake of their defeat, seeking political asylum around the world.
And there is evidence the authorities continue to torture those suspected of being involved in militant activity.
Lord Boyd’s comments came as part of a judicial review of Ms May’s decision. He considered new evidence, including statements from other Tamils who have received refugee status as well as letters from the man’s sisters.
They state that the applicant was a member of the Tamil Tigers and its splinter faction, the Karuna Group and was involved in demonstrations in the UK against the Sri Lankan government – activities that could endanger his life if he were returned.
A letter from one of the sisters, from July 2013, reveals that she fled her village, “unable to tolerate the torture” in, and that she had received threats of violence.
She said: “However, the menace does not stop there.
“If I do not tell them where you are they have threatened to kill our younger brother so I have sent our younger brother to a foreign country.”
However, the Home Secretary said the letter alone was inadequate as proof of threats.
Lord Boyd disagreed. He said the evidence before Ms May had been adequate to infer that the petitioner was at risk.
He said: “If taken together at face value, in my opinion, there was evidence from which the secretary of state could conclude that there is a realistic prospect of success before an immigration judge.”
Lord Boyd added: “I also consider that she has been too ready to dismiss the letters from the petitioner’s sister on the basis that the threats had not been reported to the police and did not provide proof that the threats had taken place.
“It seems to me to be unrealistic to expect that such threats, if made, would be reported to the police. The letters themselves are offered as proof that threats were made to the family.
“Accordingly, I conclude that the Secretary of State acted unreasonably in concluding that there was no realistic prospect of success in an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.”