Philip Trott discusses X-Rays and medical tests to verify asylum seekers’ ages on LBC
5 January 2022
Vanessa Ganguin Immigration Law Senior Counsel Philip Trott was called on Nick Ferrari’s LBC morning show on 5 January to discuss Home Office proposals to use medical methods such as X-Rays to verify asylum seekers’ ages.
The Home Secretary announced this week the establishment of a new scientific advisory committee to look at such controversial “scientific” methods to determine if people seeking asylum in the UK are children.
The President of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Professor Dame Sue Black has been appointed to chair the committee on an interim basis. It will examine scientific methods such as X-ray scans, CT scans and MRI imaging used in some European countries to help assess age in disputes by viewing key parts of the body.
When such methods have been proposed in the UK, medical professionals have questioned the ethics of using radiography on people without health benefits or without free consent. Past studies have also found that there is at least a two-year margin of error with such tests.
Priti Patel claimed that in two-thirds of cases where the age of an asylum seeker is in dispute there had been a finding that they were over the age of 18. “The practice of single grown adult men, masquerading as children claiming asylum is an appalling abuse of our system which we will end,” the Home Secretary insisted.
However, despite the Home Secretary’s assertion that in two-thirds of disputes there is a finding that asylum seekers are adults, the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has noted that, since 2017, about 90% of those who claimed to be children were in fact found to be children.
Priti Patel insisted that new scientific methods for assessing the age of asylum seekers are necessary to prevent “abuses and to give the British public confidence that we will end the overt exploitation of our laws and UK taxpayers.”
Senior Counsel Philip Trott told LBC presenter Nick Ferrari that the Home Secretary is “making a song and dance about the issue” when processes for such assessments in asylum cases already exist and suggested she was after headlines to prove that she was being tough on asylum seekers.
“The assessment of age has been something of a bête noire over the years. The current Home Secretary appears to be looking for headlines,” said Philip Trott whose legal career spans over 45 years, “if you are a migrant asserting you are a child as part of the asylum process provisions already exist so I don’t quite see what the issue is.”
You can hear the full interview here at around 1:26.