The wrong doctors

R(Al-Ali) v Brent LBC (2018) EWHC 3634 (Admin) (not on Bailii. We have seen a judgment and it is also reported in March 2019 Legal Action Housing: recent developments).

There is, I think little of legal significance in this judicial review permission decision, but there are some helpful hints for anyone thinking of fabricating evidence. The main one being, don’t. Just don’t.

Mr Al-Ali had applied to Brent as homeless. He asserted that he and members of his household (wife, her two children and uncle) and medical needs and produced letters from doctors.

Brent’s investigations made them suspicious, firstly that Mr A-A’s wife was not in fact his wife (there is mention of a marriage certificate between her and someone else altogether) and that the medical evidence and letters provided were not entirely genuine.

Brent decided no duty was owed. Mr A-A sought a s.202 review of that decision and continued temporary accommodation pending review. Brent refused to continue temporary accommodation and Mr A-A sought a judicial review of that decision.

It may not surprise you to learn, in view of the following, that Mr A-A’s solicitors had withdrawn and come off the record. Mr A-A continued in person. It did not go well.

From the judgment:

For present purposes, what is important is the medical evidence that has been put in on behalf of Mr Jaber Al-Ali. First, he has told me today that Dr Jones is not, in fact, the registered GP of Mrs Salerno. Secondly, he has told me that Dr Jones is not, in fact, the registered GP for Brandon Anderson. Consequently, it seems the letter dated 7 November 2016, at p.26 of the bundle, which says that he has “looked after the above family as their GP for 25 years” is not one that contains reliable information.

Secondly, Mr Jaber Al-Ali has accepted that he altered letters purporting to come from Dr Salmon. He says that he panicked. He says that he changed the date on the letter from Dr Salmon. On any analysis, that means that the letter that was provided would not be reliable, up-to-date evidence.

I pause to note that the defendant has, in fact, contacted the Southmead Practice and the practice manager there has written as follows:

”You are asking for a report re Brandon Anderson, we have Jones, 22.9.1996. He left the practice in 2010 and was never seen here.”

That would certainly appear to confirm, as a minimum, the suggestion that the letter altered by Mr Al-Ali was not up-to-date information. It may suggest, but I do not need to resolve that matter, that the contents of the letter, as well as the date of the letter, has been forged.

There is also the medical evidence from Dr Foale. The defendant has contacted Dr Foale. The secretary for Dr Foale has written to them as follows:

”Re Mrs Carmen Salerno. I can confirm Dr Foale has no record, either within the NHS or private sector, of the correspondence post-2016. We would be grateful if now you could let us know the source of this correspondence, which did not arise from Dr Foale’s office and which appears to be fraudulent.”

Brent’s refusal of temporary accommodation was in a letter that was apparently compliant with Regina v Camden London Borough Council, Ex Parte Mohammed (1998) 30 H.L.R. 315.

On Mr A-A’s submissions, the court held:

In my judgment, on the basis of all the material before the authority at the time, there is no arguable basis at all for concluding that the defendant was in any way in error in reaching the decision that it did. On the basis of the information before them, the defendant was entitled to form the view that on the merits of the case there was a very strong case that the claimant had, in fact, been seeking housing on the basis of fraudulent information and, as a very minimum, they were entitled to conclude that no proper, valid medical evidence had been put forward to establish even prima facie any case to housing. No new information was provided to them, I have dealt with the new information provided to this court and there are no other circumstances in their view that justifies granting interim accommodation.

In my judgment, there is no arguable basis for saying that decision is in any way legally flawed. I therefore refuse Mr Al-Ali permission to apply for judicial review of the decision of 12 November 2018. As there is no serious issue to be tried, as I have refused permission, there is no basis for granting any interim relief. I therefore refuse the application by Mr Al-Ali that an order be granted requiring the authority to continue to provide accommodation until the end of January 2019.

The application was certified as totally without merit and Mr A-A ordered to pay costs of £3,620.35

Although the court set out its very strong disapproval of Mr A-A altering letters and getting someone to say that they were a person’s GP when they weren’t, an extended civil restraint order was not made, in the hope that Mr A-A had learned his lesson.

 

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Homeless, Housing law - All and tagged , , .

Leave a Reply (We can't offer advice on individual issues)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.